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It is time to shed these ‘watershed’ moments in Kashmir
Posted:May 14, 2017
 
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Every time violence rocks Kashmir, inflicting more human misery, the immediate aftermath is invariably followed by a set pattern of platitudes.
 
From ‘time to act’ to ‘about time the Kashimiri issue is settled’, the response of those who shape our national discourse has grown stale. The Indian Army oversteps its limits and ties an innocent Kashmiri to a jeep as a human shield and we are told the army leadership must be more mature. When militants kill an unarmed soldier, our conscience-keepers take the high moral ground and decry violence.
 
The talk is also peppered with suggestions that the Indian government must do what it takes to win over alienated Kashmiri youth. The die-hard nationalists amongst us call for decisive action.
 
But as we talk, Kashmir continues to hurtle towards more chaos and anarchy. The sound bites clearly lack substance with the rhetoric failing both the Kashmiris and us.
 
But amid the orchestrated din, what is not asked is what purpose all the talk serves if it is not implementable. It is easy to say that the government now must seize the initiative in the aftermath of the unarmed soldier’s killing. Or, that the alienated Kashmiri youth must be won over.
 
But no one seems interested in giving us a blueprint as to how.
 
Armchair commentary by eloquently holding forth on the Kashmir imbroglio that has defied a solution over decades is certainly far easier.
 
But it is time to cut out the empty talk and get down to some work. A day after the soldier’s killing, the Army said it was a ‘watershed moment’. True, some Kashmiris have condemned the killing of a local by militants, but we still need to know how the moment translates into a watershed.
 
Does the Army expect one killing to turn the mood on the ground against the militants? Or will it serve as provocation to let loose the State machinery with fuller might? And why on earth would the Kashmiri youth come around, after being on the other side so steadfastly for so many years?
 
In the absence of clarity, we can only speculate. We are also forced to speculate about almost everything that is talked about, from weaning away youth to our side to ending violence has come to nothing. Amid all the noise that we hear, we have not heard anything on how exactly India plans to win hearts and minds.
 
As copious tears are shed on the plight of Kashmir, the region promises more bloodshed. Empty talk has not changed anything on the ground for almost 30 years. It will not even in the future. For a window of opportunity to open itself, we should stop the talk and get down to some real business. A concrete road map is the need of the hour.
 
Hindustan Times, May 15, 2017
 
 
 
 
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