Kashmiris feel deserted by their representatives, who disappear during disturbances, leaving them to the mercy of god or in the hands of those who have vested interests in prolonging conflicts. Recently, we also heard of certain leaders, pretending to be the representatives of the Union government, issuing proactive statements, which have contributed to the crises. The imposition of curfews to tackle crises has failed, and youngsters brought up in these years of turmoil have become hostile to the system.
The administration needs to deal with the youth humanely. The local police must be used to control mob situations and the deployment of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel should be the last option. Members of Legislative Assembly, along with senior citizens, should be involved to pacify people. Local women can also play a vital role, but they must be accorded respect by the administration.
We have seen all parties blaming each other. On most occasions, misunderstandings are created by certain officials, the police and intelligence operatives for their own ends. The state government should deal firmly with such behaviour. Politicians haven't been completely honest in their utterances on the relations between Kashmir and the Centre. They either affirm or backtrack on accords, depending on political convenience. Recently, the National Conference (NC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) raised the Kashmir Resolution again, only to further confuse people. Our parties carry three flags in their pockets: one of India, one of Pakistan and one of Kashmir. Calls for autonomy, self-rule and human rights are interchangeable.
There are no officially recognised student elections in Kashmir and it is hard to blame students for the present conflict. They only reflect the despair, caused by the failure of a consensual discourse among their elders. The hopelessness and frequent human rights disasters cause some students to raise extremist slogans. Till date, schoolchildren are being deprived of their childhood. Both rulers and militants are responsible for this tragic predicament in Kashmir. Also, Pakistan has added fuel to the fire through its representatives.
The Union government has placed agents in every administrative structure. These people have muddied the waters. Our parties maintain lobbies at the Centre that work for narrow political gains. I propose the installation of a coalition government, tasked with producing a resolution on Kashmiri aspirations. A joint parliamentary team should visit the Valley and address everyone from separatists to students to minorities. The government, with the Centre's backing, should encourage the formation of a ‘crisis management team', which should work towards reconciliation without letting local officials interfere in the process.
The state government claims that the number of active militants has declined. I suggest that the Armed Forces (Special Protection) Act (AFSPA) should be replaced with a milder law. This will enable people to go about their daily lives and give them a ray of hope. It will indicate that the system is serious about settling outstanding political issues.
The Valley's minorities can play a vital role in the dialogue process. As a non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit, who has lived in downtown Srinagar throughout the troubled times but is dejected by our malfunctioning government, I have two points to make: first, the minorities are safe and enjoy cordial relations with Kashmiri Muslims. The Amarnath Yatra is taking place smoothly and the rest of India need not worry about the yatris. Second is a request to the media to be fair-minded and compassionate while reporting on Kashmir. The Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti interacts with different shades of opinion. We try to keep alive a conversation for the re-emergence of a plural society. We want sanity to prevail in all of Kashmir.
Sanjay Tickoo is President of the Srinagar-based Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti. The views expressed by the author are personal.