Valley in renewed focus

| | in Oped

Though the extension of the ceasefire would depend on inputs Rajnath Singh will gather from security and intelligence agencies, such chances are rare and must be taken to mitigate the mayhem and decrease the chaos insurgency causes, writes Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

On a two-day visit to the state to review the security situation amid an ongoing Ramzan ceasefire, Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserted that the Centre will change the “face and fate” of Jammu & Kashmir. In this context, it is important to argue why Rajnath Singh’s visit to the valley will turn out to be a crucial step towards breaking the political logjam in Jammu & Kashmir. Considerably, the Home Minister’s visit has now assumed significance in the wake of the extension of the ceasefire announced earlier by the Home Minister during the ongoing holy month of Ramazan.

Thus, the two-day visit to Jammu & Kashmir was reportedly focused on conditional ceasefire announced by Rajnath Singh on May 16 for the holy month of Ramazan. Now, the closure of Ramazan is around the corner. It is the month of peace, reconciliation, non-violence and ceasefire — a move of hope and opportunity that was taken in the beginning of Ramazan in the valley of Jammu & Kashmir.

Though the extension of the ceasefire would depend on inputs Rajnath Singh will gather from security and intelligence agencies, such chances are rare and must be taken to mitigate the mayhem and decrease the chaos insurgency causes.

While the Ramazan ceasefire has brought great relief to the beleaguered people of Jammu & Kashmir, militants and insurgents continue to unleash mindless violence, desperately trying to sabotage the peace process.Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has optimistically tweeted that the militants will, soon, realise the “futility of their actions”, wholeheartedly welcoming the reiteration of the commitment to the ceasefire on the border by both DGMO’s. “This brings great relief to the people residing in the vicinity. Peace on our borders is the first essential step to a larger understanding and I truly hope it sustains…”, her tweet remarked.

Of course, Centre’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire during the ongoing Ramzan has given the Kashmiris in general and youths in particular an atmosphere to move ahead. Therefore, most peace-loving youths in the valley are strongly pleading for an extension of the truce. Mehbooba Mufti has rightly pointed out that “these children want to live, they want to play, they want to smile...like elsewhere in the country”.

This has put Rajnath Singh’s visit to the valley in a renewed focus amid speculations that the centre may extend the Ramazan ceasefire. But this truce has also left many Kashmiri intellectuals entangled with questions like these: Is azadi (freedom) of Kashmir a call for violence? Why has Kashmir never been allowed to settle down and take a breather from violence? Those who objectively analyze and review the ongoings in the valley are now highly critical of the insurgent ideology of violence. MHA Sikander, a young Kashmiri writer-activist based in Srinagar, has penned a moving scholarly article in which he asks: Is violence the only way out in Kashmir?

Sikander writes: “Since last one decade gun culture has gained new currency as a tool of resistance in Kashmir....The vicious cycle of death and violence needs to be broken and fractured.”

The Srinagar-based writer-activist offers a historical account of how violence in the valley has been romanticised with the flawed notion of Islamic state. He further writes: “The romanticism and tryst for the Islamic state is not new. In 1990s, most pro-Pakistan militant organisations declared their aim as establishment of Islamic state, once the accession with Pakistan is complete…..The discourse in Kashmir for establishing an Islamic state became vibrant once again with the rise of Pan Islamist insurgent movements like ISIS and Al Qaeda. This discourse is being represented by Ansar Ghazwatul Hind organisation headed by Zakir Moosa.”

The rise of the Ansar Ghazwatul Hind forced many militants to ponder on whether Kashmir is fighting a territorial war or a religious war? The whole of the Kashmiri insurgency is now divided on this. Now the common Kashmiris are left with only two possible options: Either support this maniac call for the self-styled 'Islamic state' of Zakir Moosa or blame the forces for lying about the ceasefire call. We as a population are so confused about this struggle now that nobody knows who is running all this.

On the other hand, Pakistan is promoting leaders like SAS Geelani who loudly claims to achieve the goal of  ‘Azadi Baraa-e-Islam’ (freedom for Islam). These perverse minds don’t understand that Muslims since ages have lived and prospered with people of all communities and religions.

But in the name of Islam and Jihad, what Pakistan wants to achieve is extend its borders and influence on either side, be it creating Taliban or interfering in Kashmir. Inevitably, Pakistan’s state-sponsored militants creating radical Islamist states on its borders are fuelling Islamophobia around the world. In the past 30 years, aspirations were never heard, roads were never paved, now that the opportunity in form of ceasefire has presented itself, something else has to happen. It’s about time the mainstream Kashmiri people focused on their lost heritage — Kashmiriyat — the greatest gift of sufis and rishis, the mystics of the land.

Notably, the Union Home Minister directly reached out to the children and youth by meeting players of different sports and youths at a separate event in Srinagar. Speaking at the Jammu & Kashmir Sports Conclave 2018, the Home Minister rightly stated: “Children can be misguided easily, but we know the truth, which is why we have withdrawn all stone-pelting cases against them.”

The delegate bubbled with excitement when a nine-year-old kickboxing sensation, Tajamul Islam hugged the Union Home Minister and even took a selfie with him and other dignitaries including the Chief Minister. Kashmir is too diverse, too multicultural, a land,  to imagine turning into a radical Islamist state. This visit of the Home Minister seems to go down well in the wake of fierce political turmoil in the Valley.

(The writer is a freelance contributor)

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