ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kashmir: An Idea which Cannot Be Suppressed

If the central government is sincere in its desire to seek a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue, then the first step towards this goal is to privilege politics over guns, set free the thousands of prisoners against whom no charges have been filed as well as the Hurriyat leaders in preventive detention. It is time to challenge the received wisdom that the assertion of the idea of 'azadi' is lethal, but not hate politics of certain political parties.

While the thoroughly discredited Farooq Abdullah government represents farce because it provides no governance the central government is engaged in enacting a tragedy on the people of Jammu and Kashmir by carrying on with its militaristic approach. As the clamour for teaching Pakistan a lesson reaches a crescendo and there is all round acquiescence in the assault on peoples inherent right to rebel against tyranny, few bother about the price being extracted from the Kashmiris for daring to dream of azadi. In the wake of the limited war fought over the inhospitable Kargil heights and now the hijacking of IC-814 the focus is once again on Pakistans role in fomenting terrorism in J and K. According to the government of India the crux of the matter is Pakistans undeclared war, since 1989. However, until 1994-95 emphasis was on alienation of the people (erosion of internal autonomy, corruption, rigged elections, repression) and Pakistans moral and material suppport for the militancy was read within this context. The campaign that this was proxy war gained currency only after 1995-96 when an elected government was sworn to power. Today alienation, popular aspirations, and need for democratic solution find no reference in any official pronouncement. By raising the tension in Kashmir to the status of an undeclared war the emphasis is once again on more troops, creation of 49 security grids, along with a third unified headquarter at Zoji La, and round-the-clock operations. It is considered passe to recall the role played by successive governments, including the current, in causing and aggravating the crisis or of disreagrding their responsibility to resolve it peacefully.

Intriguingly, this decision came a day after the announcement that power cuts in the valley and parts of Jammu would be increased from the existing 13 hours to up to 22 hours. In fact even in Srinagar power is available for less than two hours a day. (It has been claimed that power supply is now available for 6 hours.) Night temperatures touch minus 7-8C and icy winds lash the valley. Yet, water does not freeze in the tap as there is no power to pump water. There is no protest from any corner of India against this. It is as though entire Kashmir has been placed under house arrest. In such dark and chilly winter the announcement of a new round of security operations acquires a morbid note. (Throughout the last decade electricity was unavailable for seven to nine hours during the winter. Since November power cuts were running to 13 hours. The power available to the state was 425 MW against peak time demand for 750 MW. Of this 230 MW was imported from the northern grid and 195 MW being met from Uri, Lower Jhelum, Upper Sindh and Ganderbal projects. Transmission lines were disrupted at Qazigund and Wagura grid, allegedly by the militants, who have surprisingly, disclaimed any role.)

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