New Delhi: Kashmir is on the boil again. Official statistics suggest that six migrant workers, a Kashmiri pandit, two civilians and a CRPF personnel were killed in the last fortnight, mostly in South Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts. Two events preceded this : release of controversial film The Kashmir Files documenting the killings of Kashmiri pandits resulting in their exodus from the valley and disclosure of the number of persons from outside J and K who bought commercial land in Kashmir following removal of restrictions in the wake of abrogation of its special status under Article 370.
The two events provoked people in the Valley, specially the militants who retaliated by shooting innocent persons. In some ways, they were also incited by a section of the Opposition which openly criticised the film Kashmir Files as divisive . They may be right, but chronicling of events as important as exodus of a population cannot be ignored or held back for too long even if it looks divisive. This will be part of history of the country. In a free country the producer of a film cannot be restricted in his artistic freedom unless there is a compelling reason to do so. The censor board of film certification consisting of noted artists cleared it after all.
Kashmir has been a national agenda since India attained freedom because of the circumstances of its accession to the Indian union. Over time, however, it degenerated into political agenda creating division among parties. While BJP steadfastly adhered to its agenda of scrapping Kashmir’s special status, the Congress continued to oppose it. But now that the BJP has done what it stood for after it came to power, the Congress and some of its partners in UPA are unable to come to terms with reality, the majority of people in the country happy with the Kashmir decision notwithstanding.
A bold stand on Kashmir was necessary to bring the Valley into national mainstream. Seven decades of prevarication brought only tension and violence in the region propped up by a hostile neighbour. The abrogation of special status will ultimately force Pakistan to accept the reality and stop meddling into Kashmir affairs. The need is for the political parties to stop fanning trouble for their own vested interests. The BJP, after all, may not be in power for the eternity. Other parties taking its place in future will obviously reap the benefit in terms of a peaceful Kashmir. They must, therefore, stop playing politics over Kashmir. If the Opposition can find common ground on Russia-Ukraine war, why cannot it do so on Kashmir?
The 2019 parliamentary election results have proved that the people by and large gave their approval of the BJP’s move of abrogating Kashmir’s special status, for it featured as a key point in the election speeches of top party leaders. No party in power in future, including the Congress, can think of restoring Article 370 without facing consequences. The sooner they realise it the better for them.
The healing touch of the Valley after every bout of violence in the past proved to be illusory, the same or worse revisiting it at regular intervals. Hard decisions were the need of the time. It is imperative that now all political parties speak in one voice on Kashmir to protect India’s national interests.