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

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J&K's Agonising Wait for a Democratic Solution

There can be no military solution to the Kashmir disupte.

Armed resistance in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) began in 1989–90, after 40 years of seeking a peaceful political resolution had come to nought. Militancy had ebbed by 2007–08 and mass agitations took over. Decline of armed militancy was seen as a defeat of the movement rather than a new form of mass agitation politics, dubbed as “agitational terrorism.” The subsequent voter turnouts during elections were interpreted as people’s endorsement for union with India and proof of marginalisation of “azaadi” or independence movement. Offering economic packages was believed to be enough to assuage every wrong that had been perpetrated. The issue of land transfer to non-state subjects in recent past shows how ephemeral the electoral process is to real issues of concern.

We have witnessed bloody crackdowns in 1989–92, 2008–10 and 2013, when large numbers came out unarmed and were met with brute force resulting in mass casualties. But there is something perceptibly different this time. In 2008, there was a discernible shift away from guns and towards unarmed protests. Today that has swung decisively back towards armed militancy. Instilling fear is paramount in counter-insurgency. If funerals of militants attract masses of people and they gather in large numbers at encounter sites, it is a mark of defiance by a people who have become fearless. The United Progressive Alliance government failed to seize the moment in 2008–10, because it had nothing to offer. The offer of autonomy is no more relevant because New Delhi has worked hard for 69 years to erode it. The issue of state subjecthood in J&K, similar to the one in the North East and in the forest areas of central India, has to do with land and government jobs. The current finance minister of J&K said last year that the centre’s fiscal policies towards J&K were “coercive federalism.” Therefore, when we are told that history cannot be rolled back to return to the pre-1953 situation in J&K, it is an admission that there is nothing that the Government of India has to offer.

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