Strikes and curfews are not new to Kashmir, especially in the last twenty years. Never ever, however, has Kashmir remained closed for three months in recent history.
Reactions from governments in Srinagar and Delhi have not been very different. They use force and more force and then end up waiting for when Kashmir will get tired and normalcy returns. The two governments advise each other to reach out to the people and at the end of the day they seem to be playing to the galleries.
Last week the government initially tried to ignore the fierce debate on the issue in the Lok Sabha. It said it will react, may be, in the next session. Then somehow the Home Minister did a bit of talking and said his initiatives will start within a few days. Reports from Delhi indicate that Kashmir does not even merit a good discussion in the Congress Party as well. There is silence and suddenly there are statements but nothing changes.
From Prime Minister to Home Minister everybody has talked about dialogue with people who matter in Kashmir.
Separatists in Kashmir initially said they will not be able to talk as situation was not conducive. They later set some conditions. But the real question is why the talks required if New Delhi means business.
Recent media reports did revive the issue of autonomy. It is the political bible of ruling National Conference (NC). If New Delhi wants to restore it why should there be talks first. J&K enjoyed some amount of autonomy but it was eroded after Sheikh Abdullah was dethroned and jailed in 1953. The entire process was unilateral.
If it was eroded unilaterally, why are should New Delhi need talks for restoring it? Its restoration can still be a unilateral process.
A few years back the five Working Groups set by Prime Minister as part of Roundtable Conference initiative submitted their reports. Some of the recommendations that these groups made are exactly some of the demands that political parties like PDP and the separatists are making. It was a unilateral initiative and nobody from the Kashmir separatist camp participated.
If the initiative was unilateral and the suggestions were accepted by the government of India, why can these not be implemented? Why should New Delhi need somebody from Kashmir to talk to and implement them?
From autonomy to the working group recommendations there is nothing novel for Kashmir. It is only restoring things that were eroded. Why should New Delhi need a partner to restore what J&K already had?