Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tensions In Kashmir - Problems And Solutions

Kashmir is a land blessed by nature. It is not just the landscape, even the populace is genetically blessed by the Almighty. The all-pervading natural beauty that one encounters in the entire valley is breath-taking. From Pehalgam to Gulmarg, Sonamarg to Baramullah, you can explore any nook and corner and you will be spellbound by the sheer opulence of nature. Anything and everything is in bountiful as far as natural beauty of the countryside is concerned. In the same vein one finds a population endowed with the best of physique and sharp, strikingly beautiful features. It compels one to ruminate that nature has been rather partial to Kashmir and Kashmiris in terms of beauty as compared to rest of India.

When we mingle with the common people, there is a sense of pure and pristine simplicity which is hallmark of hill people. And if you look back thirty years, Kashmir was the place where there was absolute peace. It was like how Leh and Ladakh is today. Then what exactly went wrong that in three decades a place symbolizing heaven on earth is pushed to a spot where even the devil shudders to trod? How is it that such peace loving populace has turned so violent that Kashmir never seem to leave the newspaper headlines. We will try and evaluate plausible reasons, away from the politics of power brokers and terror merchants.

  1. Till the time Kashmir was peaceful, there was no wedge between the minority Hindus and majority Muslims. But the Hindus controlled the actual wealth as they were landlords and affluent businessmen in the Valley.
  2. Most influential Hindus were the Brahmins who were called Kashmiri Pundits. With dominance in wealth and position in society, there existed a fiduciary relationship of master and servant between many Hindus and Muslims.
  3. Such relationship however generates excesses in behaviour, leading to certain conditions of exploitation in day-to-day life. Over a long period of time these conditions give rise to  feelings of simmering anger amongst the exploited.
  4. These are the same conditions which existed in Tamil Nadu between the Brahmins and the lower castes, which led to the movement of ethnic cleansing of Tamil Brahmins and culminated in formation of DMK(Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam).
  5. So the ground was ripe to sow seeds of discontentment and this was done by foul politics and politicians in 1987 state elections.
  6. Seizing an opportunity, as Kashmir went through political turmoils after the 1987 elections, terror mongers swung into action and spread the message of hatred. Land of peace and  tranquility suddenly erupted into one perennial volcano of guns, conflicts and violence.
Situation being as it is now, there is an urgent need to find remedial measures to bring life to normalcy in Kashmir Valley. Some of the measures suggested are listed below :-
  1. Deal with militancy with a swift and heavy hand. Weed out the militants without any political colours and compulsions. After all, there are not more than 5000 militants in the entire valley.
  2. Give a better deal to the population by going full steam for real development on ground. For that the first step is to shore up infrastructure development of the Valley which should match any International standards.
  3. With infrastructure development there should be a case to turn places in Kashmir into Special Economic Zones where industries should be allowed to proliferate. This will bring economic prosperity to Kashmir by way of exponential increase in employment opportunities.
  4. Give extra push to spreading professional education amongst Kashmiri youths so that they become endowed and empowered.
  5. After making Kashmir safe by flushing out militants, make sure that it becomes a tourist destination of the world by providing the right kind of world class infrastructure and tourist comforts.
The only way out of this logjam of militancy and terrorism is to spread prosperity in the Valley with fundamentally strong policies and plans. These policies and plans should get translated into equally swift and sound execution on ground. For that politics and rhetoric have to be kept at bay. The price that Indian Government has to pay for all this will be much smaller compared to the price it pays every year in terms of losses in man and material.