After a two-day visit to Kashmir that yielded no real results, the all-party delegation led by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is back in Delhi. The situation in Kashmir remains as grim as it was 60 days ago, and is unlikely that normalcy is restored any time soon.
Billed as a major political initiative which will help peace efforts gather momentum in the Valley, the all-party delegation has, on the contrary, only deepened the deadlock. Both the Centre and the separatists have been left with fewer options to bring the ongoing unrest to a dignified end.
Those keeping an eye on Kashmir politics feel it is a catch-22 situation for Hurriyat now. By rejecting courtesy talks with leaders who visited their residences, the separatists are left with no option but to continue with the unsustainable strategy of endless shutdowns and protests.
This has also cast doubts on Hurriyat strategy. “You can’t sustain a struggle for azadi by presiding over the economic decimation of the people on whose behalf you are leading the movement,” Bilal Nazki, a businessman who is feeling the pinch of Hurriyat’s shutdowns, told Newslaundry. “This will only lead to an early onset of fatigue and end the uprising”.
Many locals taking part in the on-going protests feel that the situation has spiralled out of control of Hurriyat. “It is do or die for us this time,” Niyaz Ahmed, a 21-year-old arts student, told Newslaundry. “Both the Indian government and Hurriyat have failed us.” He said that while protestors had, in the past, followed Hurriyat’s calendar of protest, the situation this time was different. “It is a people’s movement now,” added Niyaz.
To stay relevant, Hurriyat is doing what it can to keep the anti-India stance alive. A day after refusing to meet the all-party delegation, the separatists argued they had not been officially invited by the government. In an e-mail to local journalists, the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) said, “We were never officially invited and at the same time India is blaming us for rejecting the dialogue. It is not only shameful but speaks volumes about their truthfulness, sincerity and clarity. They tried to play a game of win only for them as they just wanted to discredit us. So we ignored their casual personal gestures… India is scared of any meaningful dialogue with Hurriyat and Pakistan, as they have occupied this land illegally and forcefully by their military might using repeated lies and unabated surplus violence”.
Hurriyat leaders’ insistence on engaging Pakistan in tripartite talks is also worsening the crisis. With Singh clearly saying Jammu and Kashmir was, is and will remain an integral part of India and that the Kashmir issue is an internal matter of India, engaging Pakistan in talks is a strict no-no as far as India is concerned.
“Though the situation in Kashmir began as a spontaneous public response to Burhan Wani’s killing, a distinct Pakistan factor has since crept into the situation,” said an academic who did not wish to be named. “And Pakistan will not help ease the situation in Kashmir or urge Hurriyat to exercise restraint when India is making it difficult for Pakistan in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan”.
Delhi, meanwhile, is hoping that the crisis in Kashmir will wind down once winter sets in. “Delegations from Delhi are seen as ad hoc tools of state craft sent to temporarily address the situation,” Mubasir Husain, a journalist from Kashmir, told Newslaundry.
With the stalemate continuing and stakeholders not finding a middle ground, leaders like Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal (United) (JDU) — who was part of the all-party delegation — say the onus is on Delhi to keep a dialogue going. “Kashmir ki samasya koi ek din mein sulajhne wali samasya nahi hain. Isme samay lagega,” said Yadav. “Hum apne taraf se prayas karte rahe, yeh jaroori hain (The Kashmir issue can’t be solved in a day. It will take some time. What’s important is we keep trying from our end).”
(with inputs from Riyaz-ur-Rahman)