The last month Howdy Modi event at Houston where PM Modi and US President Trump made a joint appearance was full of substance and optics and which marked a significant shift in the Indo-US ties. The two world leaders not only addressed various issues, but made statements to their constituencies which was very well received by the people present in the audience. The important take away from the speech of President Trump was categorically referring to radical Islamic terrorism and his acknowledgement that India being its victim. The statement was blunt acknowledgment of Pakistan sponsored terrorism and India having every right to protect its citizen from such scourge. The other was securing of borders which Trump made it clear that India has every right to secure its borders, which meant that he stands for territorial integrity of India. Both these endorsements of US President are important which can be seen as US support to recent abrogation of Article 370 and the measure’s taken by India to tackle terrorism. This clearly shows that US and India have come to an understanding that any forms of radical Islamic terrorism needs to be dealt with strongly. This marks a significant departure from previous US stands where only lip service was rendered to Indian concerns. Later, hand in hand walk by both the leaders reflected that the relationship between two countries in based on strategic values and commitment to democratic institutions.
Since 5th August Kashmir has witnessed self-imposed restrictions. During my recent visit to Kashmir I saw a pattern where shops and businesses conduct their transactions from 7 am to 10 am and then terrorist diktat is followed to close the business till 4 pm. One wonders that if there is no curfew, no restrictions, no search-operations, then why this selective shutdown during the daytime. The reason is not far to seek. The separatist lobby under the guidance from terror state Pakistan, wants to convey to the world that after abrogation of provisions of Article 370, the people in Kashmir are unhappy and they are denied basic human rights. These self-imposed restrictions were to coincide with UNGA session so that India would be portrayed negatively as a violator of human rights of Kashmiri people. This human rights issue was played to the hilt by the PM of terror state at UN only to shore up the morale of its surrogates, the separatists in valley and across POJK.
We need to remind the world that Kashmir is not just Kashmir it is Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir valley. There is zero violence in Jammu and Ladakh and zero violence in 8 out of 10 districts of valley. This is clear indication that people have largely welcomed this new transition across the state.
While interacting with people in Kashmir, the general sentiment was that they welcomed the move as they felt that Article 370 had impeded the development of valley. Many youths told me that the retrograde article only served the political class and the separatists who used to blackmail successive Indian government for power and pelf, whereas the benefits of Indian constitution never reached the common citizens. The youth believe that just, equitable and accountable administration is the need of the hour which will purge the bureaucracy of its lethargy and ‘chaltahei’ attitude.
Youth in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are no less talented vis a vis the youth of rest of India. It is just that violence, which suits separatists the political class, has not been able to create a system where talent is harnessed and society is made to exist peacefully. The central government has a task cut out to undo this historical malignancy and bring it at par with rest of the states of India.
Purging of Separatism:
The central government must actively pursue the policy to purge the valley from over ground separatist workers and their proxies. These elements are instrumental in inflicting death and destruction in the valley and are primarily responsible for the genocide of half a million Kashmiri Hindu Pandits. The education system in Kashmir managed by Jaamat-e-Islami and Ahl-e-Hadis need to be taken over by state government, where modern, scientific and secular teachings are imparted to the children. It is these institutes which breed separatism which later manifests as violence. The government must also remove the officials in the administration who work against India and are soft separatists thriving on the Indian patronage.
Indian Government must also take bold steps in providing justice to the displaced Kashmiri Pandits who, since last 30 years, are living in exile across the country. These patriotic people are the aborigines of Kashmir and sentinels of Indian civilisational ethos in valley. Their repatriation to their homeland shall create a multi- cultural and multi- religious society in valley which shall eventually create a space for secular values there.
26th October is the Accession Day of the state of Jammu and Kashmir with Union of India. This year the day coincides with Deepavali and for people of J&K it is a day of double delight. The Accession Day is a reminder to all of us that on this day the ruler ok J&K Maharaja Hari Singh decided to join Union of India after tumultuous events which saw the aggression of our state sponsored by terror state Pakistan. On this day we must remember our martyrs Brig. Rajinder Singh, Major Somnath, Maqbool Sherwani, among others and resolve that we shall always remain committed to strengthen our great nation India.