Can Rajnath Visit Make Difference?
New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is undertaking a two-day visit to Kashmir valley which has been simmering with unrest since July 8. A senior Home Ministry official indicated that Rajnath Singh, after landing in Srinagar today, Wednesday, would not specifically invite the separatist for talks but he would talk to whoever goes to meet him. The second trip to the valley by the Home Minister in a month assumes importance after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed deep concern and pain over the situation in Kashmir. He made the comment after hearing the members of the delegation constituting the opposition parties from Jammu & Kashmir the other day. The delegation also met President Pranab Mukherjee.
The situation in the valley spiraled out of control in the wake of the killing of the young Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Vani on July 8 in an encounter. More than 65 people including two policemen were killed in the ensuing violence. Several thousand were injured. Some of them lost eyesight due to pellet injuries.
This has been the second bout of violence in six years. In 2010, when Omar Abdullah was the chief minister, more than a hundred youth were gunned down by armed police personnel. The UPA government in Delhi could bring about a semblance of peace with great difficulty.
In view of the extraordinary conditions prevailing in Kashmir the loudmouths among the Hindutva brigade were asked to shut up and a series of consultations with persons sympathetic to Kashmiri had been initiated. Rajnath Singh has been meeting quite a number of people including the former interlocutor MM Ansari, former Odisha High Court judge Ishrat Masroor Quddussi and security analyst Qamar Agha. Rajnath said the Centre is keen on establishing an emotional relationship with the Kashmir. Which means the Centre should think in terms of making the Kashmiris feel that they are part of India and are proud to be so. The wounds that have been inflicted on the Kashmiri psyche have got to be healed for which the Centre has to find a suitable balm. This would happen only when the Prime Minister himself would take the initiative and resolve political issues with the separatists and Pakistan. One cannot wish away the role of Pakistan in finding permanent peace in J & K notwithstanding the recent bravado regarding the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Balochistan. First things first. The Centre had to find peace with the general public in Kashmir and then tackle the separatists. The Home Minister’s visit might pave way to such an atmosphere.