The tragedy in Kashmir today is that India has to search for a positive story in an unfolding tragedy, amidst death and destruction. That Kashmiris came out in thousands to mourn the killing of Subedar Mohammad Ashraf Mir—by JeM terrorists in Sunjuwan, Jammu—is being read as an inflection point.
As a statement of sorts to Pakistan. As if the common Kashmiri was finally saying ‘enough is enough’. That, perhaps, Kashmir is realising that it is a Kashmiri who dies a death everyday. The resilience of the people of that state has, perhaps, not been appreciated as much as it should have been by the mainland.
It’s the common Kashmiri who came out to vote or even dared to contest, every time there was an election, braving boycott calls and bullets. From the first war with Pakistan right up to Kargil, it was the common Kashmiri who provided the first point of resistance—the nomadic Bakarwals tipping off the Army posts. If the last three decades have created alienation and antipathy, India owes it to the Kashmiris to find a way for reparations, to win the people back.
If talks with Pakistan offer the only way to stop the everyday bloodshed, New Delhi should give it a thought. This is one point on which there would be unanimity in Kashmir. Both the anguished Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and the feisty veteran Farooq Abdullah are suggesting it. The Hurriyat wouldn’t disagree, nor would the average Kashmiri.
Shelling across the LOC has increased manifold, and those living in the border villages have been fleeing in droves. So much so that the Union Home Minister announced that new bunkers will have to be built to shelter people. Similarly, infiltration and terror strikes have escalated.
It’s perhaps time something was done to tone down the rhetoric, even while keeping the morale of the armed forces up. Every time India spoke peace, Pakistan gave us war, so this is no call for strategic naivete—rather, one demands strategic novelty. The old game of an eye for an eye continues to give us darkness.