SOS from Kashmir

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Beleaguered Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s prescription that Prime Minister Narendra Modi alone can resolve the unrest in the Valley reflects a sense of desperation and urgency in the wake of the fast deteriorating situation. Facing an all-round flak for inept handling of the crisis, she appears to have lobbed the ball in the Central Government’s court. Understandably, the Chief Minister is under immense pressure to look for a face-saver as the ground beneath Kashmir’s feet is slipping. There are also indications that the PDP-BJP alliance is developing cracks amid talk of a possible imposition of Governor’s rule in the border State. By stating that Modi is now ideally placed to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem as he has a strong mandate and that the country would support whatever initiative he takes, Mufti has put the responsibility of bailing Kashmir out of the quagmire of violence at the doorstep of the Centre. She has also claimed that the present situation in the Valley is the result of a pent-up public anger due to the UPA government’s failure to carry forward the policy started by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government. It is no time for political blame-game when the situation is spiralling out of control. An internal government survey has warned of an alarming trend that for the first time in the last ten years local militants have outnumbered foreign terrorists in the Valley. The growing radicalisation of local youth is a matter of serious concern.

A large number of local youth, including school students, pouring into the streets to obstruct security operations against militants is a dangerous trend. The ‘Azadi’ sentiment is now steadily transforming itself into a radical Islamist movement. The rise of a new breed of militants–educated and tech-savvy–is the disturbing new reality. The death of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani triggered a vicious cycle of violence claiming over 120 lives while stone-pelting incidents have become the order of the day. The precarious situation is a virtual throwback to the 1990s when the militancy was at its peak. It is time the NDA Government came up with a creative, out-of-the-box initiative to find a solution to the vexed issue. To begin with, an all-party delegation can be sent to the Valley to ascertain the situation as a prelude to a serious political dialogue with all the stakeholders, including the Hurriyat factions. A sincere effort must be made to address the concerns of a majority of Kashmiris that the promised autonomy to the State has been diluted over decades. A unanimous resolution of the J&K Assembly in the past seeking genuine autonomy can form the basis for initiating the dialogue process.