Governor’s Rule in J&K: Time to Address the Core
         Date: 29-Jun-2018

With Governor’s Rule having been imposed, it is time to look for restoration of the situation that has deteriorated to an unacceptable level due to the soft approach advocated by Mehbooba Mufti towards Terrorists and miscreants

 
The break-up of the BJP-PDP alliance in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has created a dynamic dimension in the political environment of the sensitive state. Political Pundits and avid Kashmir watchers had always considered the same to be inevitable, but the timing has come as a surprise and many have been caught off-guard. However, for those with a deep insight into the affairs of the State, the decision of the Union government to cancel the “suspension of operation” initiative post Ramadan was a clear indicator of the manner in which the situation would evolve. Mehbooba Mufti was making demands that were “untenable” in terms of the security of the State and integration of the nation at large, and as such, the BJP was left with no option but to opt out.
 
In the aftermath of the decision, National Conference (NC) rooted firmly for Governor’s rule with a proviso that an environment for holding of elections be created at the earliest. Its President, Omar Abdullah, went to the extent of promising full support to the Governor to bring back rule of law in the trouble torn State. The Congress, always at a loss of words, somehow managed to convey its unwillingness to go for any kind of coalition. The PDP thus became a political pariah! It is in the absence of any alternative political stake to form a government that the President has promulgated Governor’s Rule in the State.
 
It should be remembered that the BJP had an option of imposing Governor’s Rule post the fractured result in the 2014 Assembly elections in the state. The party, instead, chose to get for a coalition with the PDP in order to uphold democratic values. That the government survived for three plus years is a demonstration of the high degree of patience and resilience that the party has exhibited in its tryst to keep the coalition afloat. To suggest that the BJP played politics of opportunism in going for a coalition is preposterous.
 
With Governor’s Rule having been imposed, it is time to look for restoration of the situation that has deteriorated to an unacceptable level. The key result areas would logically be a derivative of all that has gone wrong so far.
 
At the crux is the security situation in Kashmir that has deteriorated rapidly due to the soft approach advocated by Mehbooba Mufti. Terrorists and miscreants are ruling the roost due to complete lack of restraint. The turning point was the daylight murder of the journalist Sujaat Bhukhari and abduction followed by murder of the Army soldier Aurangzeb. The visit of the Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, to the house of the slain soldier was a sign of the Army’s disenchantment with the manner in which the security situation was being handled. Apparently, it was noticed by the Government with utmost seriousness.
 
It is disturbing to note that the sensationalist media, within hours of the imposition of Governor’s Rule, started talking of the Army being given a “free hand to deal with terrorism with an Iron Fist.” This gives a totally fallacious impression of the manner in which the Indian Army operates.
 
The Army accepted the decision of the Government for suspension of operations with utmost dignity and discipline, despite many independent security experts questioning the wisdom of the same. Now that the suspension is over and done with, the army will resume operation in a professional and humane manner as earlier. Utmost effort will be made to reduce collateral damage and local terrorists will be given all facility and motivation to return to the mainstream even when they are caught in a cordon, as before.
 
Putting a plug on the rapid radicalisation and religious fundamentalism being perpetrated in the Kashmir Valley by inimical foreign forces yet another sensitive area that has been ignored. Recently there were media reports of the BJP strongly opposing allotment of about 6 acres of land to the Jamait Ahle Hadees (JAH) which indicate the fissures in the erstwhile coalition on this subject.
 
There is need to devise a two pronged strategy that promotes Sufism and Kashmiriyat as intrinsic parts of the Kashmir civilization, and curb activities that aim at bringing in alien, fundamentalist religious practices into the region.
 
Press in Kashmir is in danger of being overwhelmed by money power. The BJP General Secretary, Ram Madhav, spoke of freedom of press being in danger in J&K as one reason for the breakdown of the coalition.
 
A person having cursory knowledge of psychological operations would be able to discern the sophisticated media driven and foreign sponsored propaganda machinery that has been created to influence the thought process of the people of Kashmir. In Kashmir, the print media continues to dominate with the digital challenge coming from the social media platform. Television has not been able to find a place in the scheme of things.
 
There are perceptible insinuations about advertisement and other financial support being given by the government to print media houses in Kashmir that promote soft separatism and anti-national rhetoric.
 
Freedom of press does not cater for outright anti-nationalism which endangers national security and integrity. Yellow and biased journalism being practiced in the form of opinion pieces and loaded news items that are designed to excite negative emotions should be immediately curbed.
 
The people of Kashmir need to understand that on them vests the prime responsibility of weaning away their sons from the path of terrorism. If local boys shun the path of violence then the peace that everybody is yearning for will automatically become a reality. Governor’s Rule should provide a platform for normal political activity on ground.
 
The Jammu and Ladakh regions of the State have been given short shrift during the period of the coalition, leading to festering discontent. Jammu region, especially, is sitting on the tinder box due to unaddressed sensitivities on issues like the Rohingy refugee influx, inadequate attention to plight of border residents due to incessant shelling from across the border and general lack of development initiatives in comparison to Kashmir. There are many other long pending demands like rehabilitation of the West Pakistan refugees and people of the Valmiki Samaj etc. The list is long and quite justified. There is a need to bring about a thought process that looks at the state as a whole and not in parts.
 
The people have welcomed Governor’s Rule in the State with a fair degree of relief and even happiness. The administration of the Governor will need to put in a lot of effort to first contain the adverse situation and then turn it around to a degree that facilitates holding of elections. However, expectations raised to an unattainable level would be counterproductive and should be avoided. The immediate requirement is to support the new dispensation so that forward movement is possible.
 
(The writer is a reputed analyst, author and commentator)