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J&K – LAPTOPS VS STONES

Sandeep Jain writes: Everyone is unanimous in acknowledging the Pak role in this problem. In spite of all efforts for amity, Pakistan continues to abet and instigate the unrest in the Valley.

The Valley has been in the news for last few weeks due to incidents of targeting of the security forces as also the pellet gun injuries and more than 50 deaths and close to three thousand other injuries. A change from the past has been the incisive and well informed nature of televised national debates. The Prime Minister recently said that children should have been carrying books and laptops whereas the separatist elements have given them stones. In another related development the Supreme Court pronounced that the Government approach in J&K needs to be more humane.

For probably the first time the Union Home Minister admitted in the parliament that the problem is complex and cannot be solved overnight and further that it requires all the parties to come together and find a solution. However, before we find a solution there is a need to analyse and correctly define the problem. Everyone is unanimous in acknowledging the Pak role in this problem. In spite of all efforts for amity, Pakistan continues to abet and instigate the unrest in the Valley. This includes provisioning of arms, money and political mobilisation through the separatists. There is no easy solution to this Pak perfidy, except for continued pressure in the international fora. Moreover, India has failed to launch an information campaign wrt the conditions prevailing in PoK and the hardships faced by the Kashmiri population specially the Shias and the Gujjars on the other side. Our televised debates do mention this aspect but only as rhetoric, shorn of details. The reason is lack of knowledge as also the perception that it is simply not worthwhile from a TRP perspective to put effort and resources in getting details. This needs to change.

The second problem is the “Economy of Entitlement “. The populace in J&K has got accustomed to doles and grants and is demanding it as a right. There is simply no pressure on any elected government to attract investments, start SEZs, job creation and so on. They simply expect central dole to perpetually bail them out. Permanent tax holidays and all types of exemptions are a further cause for this entitlement mind set. This needs to change in a phased manner. GST rollout can be one such opportunity to partially change this relationship. The overbearing effort of every government in J&K has been to keep investments away by erecting the barriers of Article 370 in complete contrast to any other state or country.

The Black Economy in the garb of Insurgency and Disturbed Area Status is another issue. There is practically unlimited funding available to the separatists and to many others which gets channelized in creating these disturbances. Every stone thrower, demonstrator etc. is paid per diem allowance for their efforts.  There is really very little ideology involved. It is more a case of mass hysteria and mob mentality. The ethnic cleansing and the resultant single religious society is partially responsible for this state of affairs.

The law and order and the legal system needs to be further strengthened to ensure that the guilty get swiftly punished, while the innocent do not get wrongly booked. Last but not the least- all major political parties have developed a stake in status quo. They do not want the ethnic composition to change. They do not want the disturbed area tag to go away and they are partially compelled to hob nob with the separatists.

An immediate and lasting resolution would have been to abrogate the Article 370. Since that does not seem to be feasible, there is a need to create awareness about the issues outlined above.

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