It’s sad that India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh took a fortnight to turn up in Kashmir. By the time Singh reached the Valley, 47 people (civilians and police personnel) were dead, hundreds were blinded by pellets and over 3,000 people injured.
The home minister, known for holding a tough nationalist stance, appealed to security forces to refrain from using pellet guns to quell civil unrest in the Valley. Major parts of South Kashmir has been reeling under violence since 22-year-old Islamist terrorist Burhan Wani was killed by armed forces on July 8.
Since then, Kashmir, which was inching towards ‘normalcy’ since the past couple of years, is back to a fatal faceoff with the Indian forces, who most Kashmiris believe, are there to “subjugate” them. What New Delhi thought to be peace, it now turns out, was the deadly lull before the storm. Since Burhan Wani was killed, people have been out in the streets, pelting stones at the army, stoning Hindu colonies, and getting maimed or killed in the process.
It would be considered wishful thinking if I were to say that an earlier presence of Rajnath Singh in Kashmir would have nipped the proverbial bud. Singh’s appeal to Kashmiris to refrain from pelting stones seems like the half-hearted mutterings of a father, who want to bring a wayward son home, but doesn’t know how to coax him. That Rajnath Singh has asked the forces to stop using pellet guns to disperse crowds also can’t avert the tragedies that have fallen on Kashmiris, both civilians and policemen.
Diplomatic rhetoric of Rajnath Singh also rings hollow, for he has sternly warned that Kashmir is for India to keep. But to call a land its own, and yet not visit the place to take stock of the situation even after two full weeks only exposes the ministry’s attitude towards Kashmiris.
The Home Ministry portfolio demands someone with a Midas touch, an uncompromising dedication to analyse and admit the previous follies, and courage to dump them. A fresh vision with pragmatic approach, with visible sincerity is the need of the hour, when the decades of wrong decisions have messed up the very thought process of the agitating people. It is time to reach out to the people, without involving any middlemen.
Notwithstanding which side of the wall they stand, it’s the Kashmiris that have lost their loved ones, someone while challenging the army, others while working for the state. And all because they think India claimed their “hero” Burhan Wani.
There has been news in the Pakistan media that Russian news agency Sputnik recently said that if the Kashmir situation is not brought under control, a nuclear war between Pakistan and India is imminent. According to Sputnik, the suffering of the Kashmiris carries with it the world’s greatest risk of full-scale nuclear war between two long-standing adversaries. And if that ever happens, there won’t be anything left of Pakistan or most parts of India, with millions of people dead on the either side of the border.
The burning issue in the Valley should be solved with Burnol; pallet guns will only blind its people.