Rajnath Singh’s search for a ‘permanent solution’ to Kashmir must begin with dialogue
The home minister could also push chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to speed up probes into cases of alleged excesses that have led to the deaths of civilians at the hands of the security forces.editorials Updated: May 22, 2017 17:36 IST
Home minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that the NDA government would find a permanent solution to Kashmir. While Mr Singh did not spell out what the contours of the ‘solution’ would be, he added: “Kashmir is ours, Kashmiris are ours, Kashmiriyat is ours…”. The Valley has been festering for a long time now and the Centre should lose no time in moving forward with the intent and the seriousness that Kashmir’s ground reality deserves. There are many starting points available to the home minister. A meeting of the all-party parliamentary delegation --- soon after returning from Jammu and Kashmir in September last year -- had requested the state and central governments to “take steps for a dialogue with all stakeholders”.
Last September, the government had indicated that it was willing to set up a panel of MPs to carry the dialogue forward. This paper has consistently made a case for continual, uninterrupted engagement and it is important that the process be initiated at the earliest. Momentum is of utmost importance and no time should be lost in announcing the panel and its mandate. A serious attempt must be made to work towards a political resolution and all Kashmiri stakeholders, separatists included, must also respond, for the panel would carry the weight of Parliament. Kiren Rijiju, Mr Singh’s deputy has argued against any talks with the separatists but it is for the home minister to set the terms and take care of the contradictory voices within his own ministry.
Several members of the all-party delegation have already articulated the way forward. The Left’s Sitaram Yechury has argued in favour of several confidence-building measures that include the partial lifting of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act from civilian areas and the discontinuation of the pellet gun that has become the symbol of New Delhi’s might against Kashmir’s enraged, stone-wielding youth.
Mr Singh could also push chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to speed up probes into cases of alleged excesses that have led to the deaths of civilians at the hands of the security forces. A formal acceptance of the confidence- building measures will help break the unending cycle of violence. Once that is accomplished, the committee of MPs, with Mr Singh as the leader, could work towards a lasting long-term solution. The road ahead is clear, provided New Delhi is serious in walking the talk. It is in India’s interest to move to the next level in Kashmir.