There are growing indications that it will be a hot summer in Kashmir with markets remaining closed, educational institutions not functioning, more demonstrations, firing and killings of terrorists and men belonging to security forces facing tough challenge in days to come. The functioning of state Government will be in hands of officials incharge of security forces as two partners of coalition will spend more time fighting each other than governing.
In the light of developments relating to Kathua rape and murder case of eight year old girl BJP is behaving like a wounded tiger and PDP is feeling emboldened to pursue its agenda of opening dialogue with Pakistan and attempts to rehabilitate militants by persuading them to give up the path of violence and return to civilian life. State unit of BJP has accepted the dictate of Central leaders and two Ministers who supported the persons charged with murder and rape were made to resign, but the resentment against the order of Central leadership remains strong.
PDP on other hand is keen to revive its agenda of talks with Pakistan and soft approach towards youth guilty in activities like stone pelting and violence. The differences between PDP and BJP are not likely to be resolved as both are working to save their respective constituency. The new conflict has come about in the background of facts that year 20017 witnessed a huge hike in causalities of civilians, number of terrorists killed and loss of lives by security forces engaged in operation against militants.
A terrorist strike was taking place almost every day. It was happening not only in border areas but in thickly populated areas of South Kashmir. Towns like Shopian, Tral and Islamabad earlier strongholds of PDP became center of insurgency. With sharp increase in number of local youth joining ranks of militants every time a militant was killed, locals came out in large numbers in support of militants and indulged in stone pelting to help the militants to escape.
The line of control has also become live with repeated attempts to send militants across line of control. It is no secret that in many cases clashes are started in many areas as a diversionary tactic to help the militants to cross over. These attempts are likely to increase. The attempt by Government to diffuse the situation by appointing an interlocutor has not worked as not only pro-Pakistan elements refused to talk to him, but even trade bodies refused to appear before him. His attempt to diffuse the situation by suggesting release of stone pelters or first time offenders also did not work.
The recent kidnapping, rape and murder of an eight year old girl in Kathua district has made the situation worse as same was given a communal colour with some BJP leaders including Ministers in State Cabinet working in defence of the accused in the case. The Ministers are out of the Cabinet, but wounds are yet to be healed or differences resolved. Calls for Bandh have started which in turn is expected to affect the tourist season which had made a healthy begriming this year after hosting a session of Travel Agents Association of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to resolve Kashmir problem on the lines of Previous Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by offering not only development but by working according to a slogan “Sab Ka Saath , Sab Ka Vikas”. In reality people are being divided on communal lines. It is unfortunate that not only no avenues have opened up for jobs for youth in Kashmir, but even existing establishments are shutting down.
When BJP and PDP joined coalition to form Government in Jammu and Kashmir, there was hope that two regions of State that is Kashmir Valley and Jammu province will come close to each other’ instead differences have develop with both side working to serve their respective constituency instead of working to bring the people together to work for a common goal of progress of Jammu and Kashmir. We have witnessed more violence and divisions between the provinces have deepened.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)