POLLS IN J&K CAN SOOTHE TEMPERS

The wedge between different parts of Jammu and Kashmir has become deeper during the last four years.

This was amply demonstrated after the Nowgam attack on CRP convoy in which over forty jawans were killed and many more injured this led to widespread riots in Jammu city forcing authorities to impose curfew for many days. In these riots the shops belonging to Kashmiris were looted and many of them were personally attacked.

The Kashmiri students studying in different states like Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana were also attacked Many of them chose to return home instead of continuing studies. Some Kashmiris who sell handicrafts and dry fruits in different parts of the country were also attacked. The result is that a feeling has grown that Kashmiris are finding it difficult to do business or study in different parts of India.

These attacks are taking place despite appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that our fight is not with Kashmiris but with those who attack people of Kashmir. There is, however, no doubt that hard core Muslims as well as Hard core Hindu in Jammu and Kashmir are making the dividing line between Jammu and Kashmir deeper to a point where two regions are developing enemity between them.

It is a tragedy that Kashmiri students come to study in different parts of India after getting scholarships under Prime Minister scheme and because of these attacks they are forced to return to the home state. As such what was launched to bring about integration is becoming a matter of creating conflict and enemity between the Kashmiri students and students in different parts of country who chose to attack them.

The BJP Government policy of dealing with Kashmir problem by force only has created more complications. Large scale arrests, ban on Jamait-eh Islami has not helped the situation. In case the Government decides to impose a ban on Hurriyat Conference also there will be no one left to talk to resolve the situation. As it is top leaders are regularly placed under home arrest restricting their activities.

According to a BJP spokesman they are not prepared to talk to any group which wants to change present set up in Jammu and Kashmir. They blame the Wahbi influence in Kashmir which has led to growth of hard core elements and militants. They deny there are any hard core groups among Hindus. Where as Kashmiri intellectuals argue that growth of right wing parties in India and agitation like cow protection group, love Jihad and other right wing Hindu groups has shaken the faith of Kashmiris in India.

It is unfortunate that while first BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee won the hearts of Kashmiris when he declared that he was prepared to solve all issues within the framework of “Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat” present regime has only used force to suppress the agitation in Kashmir.

The imposition of Governor’s rule has not helped the situation as not only alienation of people in Kashmir is continuing, but even hatred among Jammu province and Kashmir has grown.

Under the circumstances the general feeling in Kashmir is that probably election in the state for Lok Sabha and State Assembly should be held along with rest of the country. A popular Government in state and a new Government in Delhi may be able to re-establish faith and trust between the two. All political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have supported the move for election when the Election Commission officials visited the state.

There are, however whispers going around that election may be held for Lok Sabha only and not for State Assembly. In case this is done it will make the situation worse. As it would create an impression that Kashmir is being treated as a colony. The poll in the past has worked to bring about normalcy in Kashmir and it can be done again. Force alone can not resolve Kashmir issue we need to win hearts and minds of Kashmiri people.

BRIJ BHARDWAJ IS A VETERAN JOURNALIST AND COMMENTATOR

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