SRINAGAR: The weekend visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Jammu and Kashmir was hectic but he ensured that he speaks everywhere. In Ladakh, he attended the closing function of the Koshak Bakula Rinpoche’s birth anniversary function. It was a SKUAST function at Jammu and in Srinagar; it was a series of inaugurating various developmental projects.
In Ladakh, he praised the resilience of the people in combating the geographic and climatic crisis to come out of the closet into the competition. He actually suggested Kashmir and Jammu must take a few quick lessons from Ladakh in growth and overall development. In Jammu, he talked about how technology can transform the agriculture.
The main function in Srinagar was witnessed by a separate sponsored strike. The development dominated his speech and he insisted that the development was the only solution to all problems that the state was facing. Insisting that stone pelters and the youth carrying the gun are destabilising Kashmir, Modi said they will have to give up the violence, join the mainstream and contribute to the overall development. While he took the responsibility for the ceasefire in Ramzan, he did not offer any idea that will follow it up. This was despite the fact that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti pleaded on the human aspect of the crisis and the Agenda of Alliance.
How did the political parties see the day-long visit of the Prime Minister? What they read between the lines of his speeches. Read how the select politicians reacted to this question.
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq
Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL)
Narendra Modi talked about hugging and kissing Kashmiris but has no idea about how that can be done. Off late, he is talking a lot but on the ground, there is nothing much he is able to do.
Our stand is very clear. We want the issue of Kashmir to be seen as an issue about a dispute and an issue about the aspirations of the people. It is not an issue about perks, incentives and doles. Its solution does not lie in the development as he said yesterday. Its solution lies in talks between all the stakeholders.
The emphasis on development during the visit or even earlier is aimed at diverting the attention from the main issue and creating a new narrative, a brand new discourse that suits them. The fact is that Kashmir is a political issue that has three parties and the territory of Kashmir is divided. The fact is that there are commitments from the Government of India that they will talk and give certain rights to the people about making their decisions.
Modi has been talking about Vajpayee every time he is in Kashmir. But the fact is that he is unwilling to follow Vajpayee. In 2000, Vajpayee engaged Kashmir and Pakistan as well because he knew the economics and the doles are not going to work.
Unlike the earlier ceasefire, this one is just a pause button. Once the Ramzan is over, the games of killings will resume as the button plays. It has no follow up system, as far as I see. If he so keen on Kashmir, he should initiate a credible process as Vajpayee attempted. There is a possibility of going for some majors like de-militarisation and roll back of APSPA that can help improve the situation and offer an idea about the credibility of the process. If these things are not there, these are mere talks to kill time.
Ali Mohammad Sagar
General Secretary (NC)
What I could gather from his speeches in Jammu, Ladakh and Srinagar was that he addressed the development part of the problem. But he avoided the political aspect of the problem which is more crucial. Kashmir, after all, is a political problem.
Modi Ji made certain mentions like the youth should join the mainstream and contribute to the overall development and that Kashmir needs to be embraced rather than abused or tackled by the bullet. But he did not explain things. It was entirely a development related speech.
The fact is that the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti conveyed, albeit weakly, that Kashmiris are Indians despite the stone pelting and picking of guns and will continue to be the crown of India. She also talked about the Agenda of Alliance as well. In the all-party meeting, we did discuss the Agenda of Alliance that includes, among other things talking to Hurriyat and initiating a dialogue with Pakistan. We also discussed many things that could make certain differences at ground zero. But the Prime Minister avoided responding to it. Development completely dominated the visit.
Ghulam Ahmad Mir
It was just a routine visit that Prime Minister failed to get any importance. Laying the foundation stone for Zoji La tunnel or the ring roads is a routine happening. Had he not laid the foundation stones those projects would still come up. What would have made his visit important was the use of language, the thought process and the politics of it. Unfortunately that all was missing in the visit. There was not even an indication of how he wants to improve the situation on the ground.
Agreed, he did not want to get into the politics of it, he could have tackled employment. He could have said that the unemployment can be managed by the huge country’s private and public sector. Had he even given us once percent of the recruitments, we would have managed parked a million unemployed youth across India? That would have led the people to think about the sincerely the Prime Minister is hawking about.
I watched just a glimpse of Mehbooba Mufti telling the Prime Minister about his bravery in going to Pakistan. She was trying to tell him that he went for a Biryani bash and in return India got Pathankot. But that happens everywhere. He could take the talk to the next level.
The fact is that BJP is not willing to intervene and alter the situation in Kashmir because it suits them, their politics. They get votes out of the bad situation in Kashmir. In UP elections, he sold the myth that because of demonetisation, the stone pelting in Kashmir has stopped and the calm on borders were restored. Nobody is asking this man any question. Nobody asked him how many people were killed on the borders when he was in Srinagar? Somebody must him if his interventions in Kashmir are experimentation for Kashmir or for his own political gains.
It has been able to somehow make a feel-good factor in diminishing the level of cynicism. The fact that it comes after the Prime Minister announced ceasefire during Ramzan and the kind of narrative it unfolded in Srinagar was a clear indication that he himself as the Prime Minister and a powerful leader is willing to walk his talk on the peace front.
It is just not the government alone that can take this process forward, the separatists will have to come out of their rejectionist mode and show some degree of willingness to engage in this new effort.
It is interesting that the vibes from Pakistan too have started being more positive than in the past and their military too has explicitly expressed its willingness to enter into a dialogue with India. It seems that some positivity is returning to the narrative over Kashmir but as being the primary victim of the hospitality between the two countries, it is for all of us in the state to acknowledge even a small step so that we can build on it further and try to breach the stone wall that has been erected around us so far as conflict resolution is concerned.
One significant development around this announcement of the unilateral ceasefire is that it was openly piloted by the mainstream parties and it got a positive response from the centre amid hard-line cacophony from all sides. Compare this with Atal Behari Vajpayee’s 2000 initiative, you will find, it was opposed by none other than the state government which ordered its police not to observe it.
On the development front, connectivity continues to be the focus of the development in Jammu and Kashmir. And in that, the construction of Zoji La tunnel and major ring roads for Srinagar and Jammu will go a long way in solving accessibility problem which, in my opinion, is part of our political problems as well.
Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami
It was a routine visit. The elections are getting closer and the government had to make some announcements and that is what happened during the Prime Minister’s visit. The entire exercise was aimed at that.
There was a little hope that was generated by the announcement of the “ceasefire” for the month of Ramzan that the Government of India might have a back-up to initiate certain things on political front or the confidence building measures (CBM) or a serious attempt to s serious dialogue with the voices of dissent. There was not even intent of that during the visit. This situation has discouraged the voices which were seeking some intervention at this crucial juncture.
To be honest, in this visit, there was nothing much which could be able to even generate hope, a minimum of it, or even intent that there was some seriousness towards generating an environment of hope.
There were certain events on the Line of Control (LoC) which were unwarranted. But, at the same time, it was hoped that the Government of India might have done some work on the round as it had happened earlier when similar ceasefire initiative was announced. Those ground works is key to the support for such initiatives.
Earlier, the ceasefire was not restricted to Ramzan alone. In one case, it was extended to many months. Now, we expect that this ceasefire also follow that track. We want it to be extended beyond Ramzan even if there are provocations. Let us understand that we need not get provoked. Once it is extended, the Government of India must work in the ground and respond to the ground realities. This is the only way to reduce the suffering of the people.
Narendra Modi Ji did not talk about Kashmir issue at all. He did not even refer to the dozens of the civilians who were killed in recent days. At least, I expected, he should have asked the police, the paramilitary and the army to be human in their approach. But he did not do anything of that sort.
His insistence that resolution lies in the development is completely absurd. Had development been a solution to the political disputes then British were in a better position to development India – they were more knowledgeable, better resourceful and more honest. They would have developed India quite fast and better.
Modi asked militants to return but that was disgusting. Had he suggested them to return and become part of the elaborate political process, it would still mean something. He almost said what the state police chief said that the militants should see the ceasefire as an opportunity to return.
We have maintained that the ceasefire is just the beginning and not the end. It is just a first step. We expected that the Prime Minister will announce the second step that will follow up the ceasefire. But that did not happen. That also means their intentions are not good.
I was especially surprised by the way Mehbooba Mufti represented the people of Kashmir before the visiting Prime Minister. She was championing the cause of the West Pakistan refugees. She did not realise that the suffering of Kashmir are as old as the Azaadi and making of India and Pakistan. How can the mutual bilateral animosity between India and Pakistan keep us, hostage, forever? Our Chief Minister behaved as an apologetic and Modi’s speech just mean he wants his time.
But what I was happy about is the Modi’s acceptance of the fact that Jammu and Kashmir has the capacity to supply power to the rest of India. That means we have resources and we are not beggars. But it also means that we have lost yet another project to NHPC at a time when the ruling party was telling us that it will get the power projects back.