A Welcome Change

The government seems to have started listening to good advice. Though the Hurriyat (M) would have managed to observe the death anniversaries of Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone otherwise, it was better the government permitted a gathering. This helped organizers to mobilize people, manage good attendance and offer them a peaceful platform where they could interact. A denial would have triggered a showdown and possibly a bloody battle, as has been happening in Kashmir.
Permissions to lawful assemblies in Kashmir have remained a rarity throughout history. After the militancy broke out, it became the single most important reason for government to prevent people from assembling. Even some religious processions like Muharram processions continue to remain banned for over two decades now.
Going by the official accounts, the security situation has improved. Last year around one crore people visited J&K and this year Srinagar is witnessing record arrivals. Businesses have improved and the number of hartals have gone down. All these indicators point towards the pressing requirement of permitting people to get engaged in political activities. The spaces that have remained shrunken for politico-ideological reasons need to be relaxed now. This is fundamental to success of political processes and justification of being a democratic system. Denial of this right has often led to clashes between young men and the security grid in which many precious lives were lost.
 If Kashmir is coming out of the strife, as officials are so keen to prove, then transition from a violent expression to a peaceful phase has to take place. And the best way-out is to relax space for political activity and permit all the stakeholders to engage people, especially the youth.
The security mindset may dislike the idea. Given its evolution from a bunch to an army and from subordinates to the bosses, and the training the system continues to impart them, they do see even a pro-Azaadi slogan as a potential target. They have compartmentalized the entire society in UGWs (under ground workers) and OGWs (over ground workers) and in certain cases they see capital punishment quite convincing in both the cases. It is this mindset that sends the University of Kashmir top brass to ban student activity and to actually demolish the student’s union office.
Kashmir has passed through an overwhelming situation in last 20 years. Now when the bullets have almost stopped flying, the people need to talk, interact, discuss and come out with their own prescriptions for the crisis they encounter. Denying that will create a pressure cooker condition that can be disastrous. Space needs to be given to all the stakeholders and it can gradually emerge as a huge CBM.

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