Indians have given the thumbs down to those negotiating a resolution to the Kashmir problem: almost two-thirds of the respondents in a national survey say they do not believe it will be solved even by 2020.
The numbers, projections from the
survey conducted in eight cities, indicate that people see no concrete results emerging in 2007 from the peace talks between India and Pakistan that have continued since 2004.
The government says nearly 41,000 people have died in the insurgency that began in 1989; human rights groups say the number is twice that. In Srinagar, popular Kashmiri poet Zareef Ahmed Zareef sees no end in sight to the deadlock.
“We thought this will be resolved in a few months,” he said in a telephonic interview. “But we have no guidance that will take us from darkness to light. People from Delhi and Islamabad keep talking about this, but all that they leave behind is confusion. They have nothing to offer.”
Thirty-two per cent said the Kashmir issue will be solved by 2020, but 47 per cent unequivocally said it will not, and 21 per cent said, “We will have to live with it”.
The overwhelming presence of security forces in Kashmir is cited as a necessity for security, but it also helps prop up disaffection to the Indian government.
“Every day, you have to negotiate your peace,” Wasim Yusuf Bhat, a 31-year-old Srinagar resident, said. “And some levels of violence have clearly become permissible. In 1990, the city would shut down if there was a grenade blast on a street. Now life continues as usual on the next street.”
The Pandits have suffered greatly. “Our biggest blot is that we are nationalists. If we had asked for independence, the government would have negotiated with us too; it would not have taken us for granted,” said Heera Lal Chattha, a leader of Kashmir’s Hindu community. Some 30,000 Pandits still live in squalid refugee camps in Jammu.
But the governments of India and Pakistan are not the only ones being blamed in the Kashmir Valley. There are voices against the separatist politicians, including the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference, who many say have no direction to offer.
“People are disillusioned with political separatists. They have shown neither unity of organization nor cause," said Kashmiri columnist PG Rasool, critics of the Indian government for the overwhelming military presence.
"People think that these separatists care for personal interests. They have no plan or roadmap,” he said.
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