Defence minister Manohar Parrikar is not known for his restraint but it really is a stretch to suggest, as he did, a connection between the lack of incidents of stone-pelting in the Valley and the demonetisation decision. “Earlier, there were rates: ₹500 for stone-pelting (on security forces in Kashmir) and ₹1,000 for doing something else. PM has brought terror funding to zero”, Parrikar said at a function recently. While Parrikar is well within his right to commend the prime minister for what the BJP is promoting as a bold decision, there is nothing to show that the stone-pelting had anything to do with black money. The home ministry has also drawn a connection between a decline in separatist-instigated violence in the Valley after the surprise demonetisation move.
However, the decrease in stone-pelting and a decline in violence should be seized by both the state and central government to put in place some measures to mitigate the sufferings of the people of the Valley who have been reeling from curfews and shortages for months on end since the killing of militant Burhan Wani and the violence which followed. Another piece of good news is that 95% of students were able to sit for their school leaving examinations, though under heavy security. The Centre and state have plenty of suggestions from the various committees which had been set up to look into solutions for Kashmir. A lull in violence should afford both a chance to see if they can implement some of these.
Now that winter has set in there is bound to be decline in militant violence. The state and Centre have often talked about confidence-building measures and involving all stakeholders. The Hurriyat may not come on board but that should not stop the authorities from implementing at least a few measures that will show people that they are acting with good intent. A bitter winter with shortages and curfews is not likely to win any friends for the government unless it acts now.