Kashmir Problems and Solutions
Kashmir is boiling. Imposition of curfew is one of the longest in recent times. All politicians are trying to understand the problem and then seek solutions. State administration is ineffective and Kashmiris are suffering. In this blog, “Kashmir Problems and Solutions“, we try to analyze the major problems and discuss the possible solutions to the Kashmir problem.
Pertinent Issues which Impact Kashmiri Society
Kashmiris Distrust Central Government
Kashmiris distrust the central government owing to a various undemocratic actions and other issues enumerated below:
- Sheikh Abdullah was the prime minister until he was dismissed and jailed in 1953 on the grounds of conspiracy against the state of India and replaced by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad.
- Sheikh Abdullah was again arrested in 1965 until 1968 for conspiracy against the state.
- In June 1983 elections, the JKNC led by Farooq Abdullah won a comfortable majority. In July 1984 Farooq’s brother-in-law G M Shah split the party. Acting on the behest of the central government, the Governor dismissed CM Farooq and installed G M Shah in his place. His government was dismissed in March 1986 and President’s rule was imposed.
- In 1987 again Farooq became CM in alliance with the Congress. Elections were widely deemed to be rigged. General elections in 1989 saw less than 10% voting in Kashmir.
- Insurgency started in the period 1987-89 primarily as a response to the rigged elections.
- Farooq was dismissed again in 1990 and President’s rule imposed.
- Approximately 4000 civilians have been killed in the insurgency since 1989 in Kashmir.
- The Indian Army has been accused of violation of human rights. It must be accepted that when an organization exercises power as provided for in AFSPA there are chances of its misuse.
- Continued imposition of AFSPA which results in harassment of Kashmiris.
- Flood affected people in 2014 have not been suitably compensated till date.
Changes in Kashmir Since 1990
- Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. 20% of Kashmiri Pandits had left Kashmir in 1948. By 1981 the population was approximately 5% of the total. Kashmiri Pandits formed 3% of Kashmir’s population till their mass exodus in 1990 (approximately 2 lacs). Approximately 400 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in terrorist incidents, mainly in the 1989-90 period and their properties destroyed.
- Radicalization of Kashmir. ‘Kashmiriyat’ is difficult to define. In 1980s girls could be seen in Kashmir wearing dresses similar to other parts of India. Now you will see practically all women wearing head scarves. Cinema halls were closed in 1990s. The society has been gradually radicalized towards ‘Wahabism’ rather than the past of ‘Sufism’.
Role of Pakistan
Pakistan had invaded Kashmir in 1947 and continues to hold PoK. In accordance with the ‘Idea of Pakistan’ or the ‘Two Nation Theory’ it is not possible for a Muslim majority state to remain a part of ‘Hindu-India’. It has been following this policy always. Since 1988-89 it has been conducting a ‘proxy war’ in Kashmir. The leaderless uprising in Kashmir since the killing of Burhan Wani appears to be promoted by Pakistan.
Impact of Incidents in India
Creation of Bangladesh in 1971 gave evidence of the failure of the ‘Two Nation Theory’ for the creation of Pakistan. The ‘Idea of Secular India’, though better, has been far from perfect. This has impacted Kashmiri society. Major incidents have been the:
- Destruction of Babri Masjid.
- Killings of Muslims in Gujarat.
BJP Government at Centre and Sharing Power in J&K
- BJP is in favour of abrogation of Article 370, which grants special status to Kashmir. BJP also supports establishment of a uniform civil code in the country. Both these stands are disliked by the increasingly radicalized Kashmiri society.
- The illegal empowerment of radical Hindus under Modi’s government through actions like:
- Beef ban.
- ‘Gau Raksha’.
- Promotion of BJP/ RSS’ concept of nationalism which is apparently anti-minorities.
- Kashmiris perceive that the central government is more interested in retaining the Kashmir land rather than the people.
Current Situation in Kashmir
- Handling of protests and imposition of curfew has strengthened pro-Pakistan and separatist sentiments. The casualties suffered through the use of shot guns has angered the people and increased the hatred for the administration.
- The CM’s statement that only 5% are indulging in violent protests may be technically correct. This 5% apparently has the support of a much larger number.
- In the situation of curfew, protests and violence people suffer hardships, economy suffers, education and routine work has come to a standstill.
Kashmir: Short Term Solutions
- Centre and state governments should work to normalize the situation and restore administration by talking to all stake holders and opinion makers in Kashmir.
- Central police and state forces should be increased and better trained. Weapons like shotguns should not be used against civilians.
- AFSPA should be removed and Army should only be deployed to guard the border.
- The promised flood relief should be provided urgently.
Long Term Solutions for Kashmir
- BJP should give up the stand on Article 370.
- BJP should stop promotion of radical Hindu nationalism.
- BJP should stop promotion of beef bans and ‘Gau Rakshaks’.
- Displaced Kashmiri Pandits should be rehabilitated under police protection. It is a vital step in restoration of ‘Kashmiriyat’.
- Cinema halls should be opened. Government must initiate efforts to prevent radicalization of the society and bring it back towards ‘Sufism’ or else it will tend to drift towards the ISIS brand of Islam. Improved schooling and higher education will be the right steps in that direction.
- The CM should be empowered and Article 356 should never be misused.
- Pakistan’s support for terrorism must be countered internationally through diplomacy, through vigorous military action at the border and specially trained and armed police internally.
Implementation of Solutions Difficult but Essential
Implementation of above points will not be an easy task. It has to be done in case India desires to have a happy Kashmir getting closer to India and not drifting away towards radical Islam.