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  Opinion   Edit  16 Apr 2018  An opening in J&K... but can govt take it?

An opening in J&K... but can govt take it?

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Apr 16, 2018, 3:00 am IST
Updated : Apr 16, 2018, 3:00 am IST

Kashmiris might have felt better if the CM had dismissed the two BJP ministers, but they realise she is hamstrung.

Several organisations, including the Bar Association and the Hindu Ekta Manch, had staged a sit-in in Kathua town on March 3 demanding a CBI inquiry into the case. (Photo: File/PTI)
 Several organisations, including the Bar Association and the Hindu Ekta Manch, had staged a sit-in in Kathua town on March 3 demanding a CBI inquiry into the case. (Photo: File/PTI)

The way all of India rose up to condemn the Kathua outrage and unleash a barrage of criticism of the ruling BJP and outfits related to it has had a cathartic effect in the Kashmir Valley. The message that has gone out is that India cares about the Muslim people of J&K, and not just the territory.

Perhaps such a direct message to the Kashmiri people has not gone out before. The effects of the terrible Kashmir flood in 2014, which the Indian Army did much to alleviate, was overtaken by jingoistic rants on television and the sense of relief turned to anger.

The 2005 earthquake that devastated parts of northern Kashmir saw the Indian Air Force perform acts of daring in rescue and relief operations. This was widely appreciated, but subsequent events which led to the sharpening of Pakistan-instigated extremist politics, and terrorist violence, have dimmed that memory.

In contrast, the anger pouring out on the streets of the country after Kathua, especially the mood of ordinary folk in largely Hindu Jammu, was voluntary and not prompted by any official agency. This gives heart to Kashmir and is imbued with strategic value of considerable significance. However, this is an intangible quantity which needs nurturing. It is not clear if the Centre under Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands this.

It appears Kashmir has also noted that in expressing their profound solidarity with the child victim of the Kathua tragedy, ordinary people in the rest of India rallied against the BJP, which has come to be looked upon with suspicion in the Valley due to its crass understanding of nationalism, which has manifested itself in unpalatable ways.

This has lightened the tragedy and the sense of doom and political foreboding in Kashmir. This became apparent when chief minister Mehbooba Mufti held a meeting with her Cabinet colleagues and senior party leaders on Saturday. The PDP was relieved that the BJP in the end was forced to do the right thing under enormous public pressure, which led Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare that justice would be done — and promptly the two ministers who had sided with the guilty of Kathua were made to resign.

But this is unlikely to shore up the CM’s stock, which has dropped due to her association with the saffron party. Kashmiris might have felt better if the CM had dismissed the two BJP ministers, but they realise she is hamstrung. Besides, it hasn’t sat well in Kashmir that Ram Madhav, BJP’s pointman for J&K, insists that the two ministers were guilty only of committing an “indiscretion”.

The strategic asset that solidarity with Kathua has produced cannot, however, be converted into goodwill for the government thanks to the unthinking political framework in which the Centre operates in Kashmir.

Tags: kashmir valley, kathua gangrape and murder