JK An uncomfortable peace

first_imgEveryone seems to have a story about Jammu and Kashmir. I have none. My only first-hand understanding of the state is through its people—some who were dispossessed of their land, others who still call it home but work or study outside of it. After the decision on Article 370, a slew of J&K experts has surfaced. I can neither boast of being an expert nor can I call it home. But every time I think of that (once) state, I am filled with melancholy. There are very few places in the world like J&K where paradise and hell coexist, where picture-perfect sceneries have been marred by violence and bloodshed. Also Read – A special kind of bondIt is strange for me that of all the states that I have travelled to, J&K remains unchartered. Never have I travelled there for work, not for leisure either. But I have longed to experience the mysterious Dal Lake, the enviable snowy slopes of Gulmarg, the delectable Kashmiri Wazwan, the warmth of kahwa consumed not in Delhi or Kolkata, but in Kashmir. After the disempowerment of Article 370, I frankly can’t tell when it will be safe for tourists to go to the valley. Also Read – Insider threat managementPerhaps it was time for Article 370 and Article 35A to go and it would take an autocratic government to do so, but the manner in which it was done is frightening. In a democracy and with Parliament in session, the move was made without much debate. The worst decision perhaps was to not take the mainstream political leaders into confidence. Most disastrous is the silence that engulfed J&K after the announcement. People unable to reach their families since communication lines are shut down, normal life is thrown out of balance, and an entire population forcibly silenced. While the situation is easing now, the first few days were discomforting. To be under complete shutdown was unimaginable to me. Again, I must clarify, that I believe J&K is an integral part of India, its people are my people, my brothers and sisters. I want J&K to be accessible to the rest of the nation equally as the rest of the nation is accessible to the Kashmiris. The decades of strife and losses that are borne by the common people of Kashmir need to end. We can’t overlook the unfair exodus of Kashmiri Pandits either. But there must be the heralding of a new dawn where the past gives way to a reality where industry and tourism thrive. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown us all that dream in his address to the nation but can he achieve it? We were shown dreams of economic development too but today, we are staring at a domestic slowdown with sluggish growth and massive job cuts. So, I remain guardedly optimistic. What other choice do we have? This bold decision by Modi 2.0 must also ensure that J&K returns to normalcy soon. A suffocating environment kept safe by heavy deployment of troops is not a long-term solution. The PM’s promise that the people will vote in the Assembly elections must happen soon. Allow a democratically-elected government to take the reins and return statehood to J&K in a time-bound manner. The Central government needs to heal the trust deficit that it is creating in the minds of the people in India, especially where there have been demands for statehood. Can the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration be dissolved and Gorkhaland announced as a separate state at the cost of West Bengal? J&K and Ladakh were bifurcated, will other north-eastern states have similar hopes? Historically, BJP has been in favour of smaller states but can it bypass the Constitution and democratic means to bulldoze its agenda? With J&K and Ladakh, it already has. (The writer is an author and media entrepreneur. Views expressed are strictly personal)last_img

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