Why is Modi not serious about Kashmir resolution?


Not just a law and order problem


It took Justice Sagir Ahmad, the Convenor of the Working Group on Centre-State Relations, three years to prepare his report. And when on 24 December 2009 he submitted his report, he revealed the non-serious attitude of New Delhi in dealing with Kashmir


New Delhi is not serious about conflict resolution in Kashmir. They only believe in conflict management and perpetuation of status quo. With these aims and objectives they depute parliamentary delegations and appoint interlocutors.

Ostensibly the purpose of interlocutory was a dialogue with Kashmiris. But experience showed that the primary aim of interlocutory was to divert the Kashmiri mind to buy more and more time. By the time the three interlocutors, Dilip Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar, and MM Ansari, appointed in 2010 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, submitted their report, Kashmiris had forgotten about them. In February 2003 Prime Minister Vajpayee appointed NN Vohra as New Delhi’s interlocutor for Kashmir. In May 2006 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up five working groups on Kashmir to recommend measures to improve i) Centre-State relations; ii) economic relations across the Line of Control; iii) economic development of Kashmir ; iv) rehabilitation of families of militants and reviewing of the cases of detainees; and v) good governance.

It took Justice Sagir Ahmad, the Convenor of the Working Group on Centre-State Relations, three years to prepare his report. And when on 24 December 2009 he submitted his report, he revealed the non-serious attitude of New Delhi in dealing with Kashmir. Instead of reporting to his appointing authority (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), he submitted his report to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. It is said that it talked of grant of some sort of “autonomy” to Kashmir. Kashmiris wondered as to what would the chief minister of Kashmir do with the report.

At the height of 2010 uprising, when about 120 teenagers were gunned down by armed forces in Kashmir, a parliamentary delegation visited the valley. Once in Kashmir they indulged in doublespeak. While talking to “separatist” leadership they insisted that they were there in their personal capacities. Anyway they enjoyed a picnic in the wounded paradise of Kashmir and returned.

So when they once again appeared Kashmir in 2016, during the post-Burhan killing uprising, and repeated the same hypocrisy that they had come in their personal capacities, the “separatist” leadership was constrained to close their doors on them.

The latest arrival in Kashmir in the sphere of interlocutory has been former Union Minister Yeshwant Sinha. Ostensibly he headed a “civil society” group that included former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah, retired Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, Editor Bharat Bhushan, and Programme Director Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, Sushoba Barve.

Kashmiris believed that this group visited Kashmir at the behest of New Delhi. Irrespective of whether this group was part of India’s political society or of the civil society, they seemed non-serious about conflict resolution?

In order to resolve a conflict, the first and the foremost condition is knowing about the nature of the conflict. Knowledge of the nature of the conflict will lead to resolution. Yeshwant Sinha, as also the rest of Indians who profess to be sympathetic to Kashmir, refuses to acknowledge the existence of a dispute over Kashmir. Their only concern seems to be the geopolitical goals of India. They want to see India as the Big Brother of Asia. To them Kashmiris are a nuisance who need to be gulled. And the best way they think they could do this is to invoke Vajpyee and present him to Kashmiris as a statesman, and a man of peace who stood for resolution of the Kashmir Dispute. Was Vajpayee really what they project him to be? Let us see.

Vajpayee played a negative role at the time of genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in 2001 when he was prime minister and had duties to perform; and at the time of Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992 which led to his ascension to premiership half a decade later. When he became prime minister on 19 March 1998, his first act was to kick-start a nuclear arms race in south Asia by ordering carrying out of nuclear explosions on 11 May. As Jana Sangh chief in 1960s he had mounted constant pressure on the Indira Gandhi government to go nuclear.

In 1972 he met Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at Simla and urged her not to release Pakistani POWs unless Pakistan was forced to bow down on Kashmir (p.172 My Country My Life LK Advani). If India’s relations with Pakistan remained comparatively cordial during 1977-79, it was not because of him, but because of Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s sobering influence on the New Delhi administration during those years.

Vajpayee was a hawk. He passed for a dove because of his sweet tongue with which he could mesmerise audiences. He visited Lahore in 1998, not to resolve Kashmir, but to introduce the status quo formula called Livingston Proposal.

New Delhi should know that Kashmiris want to see a break in the status quo. If New Delhi is serious about resolving Kashmir then the first and the foremost thing to do would be to accept the existence of a dispute instead of distorting facts about Kashmir and calling it a mere law and order problem.