The current situation of J&K with the abrogation of Articles 370 & Article 35A is, no doubt, a bold step by the Modi regime, which is being praised by political gurus even beyond party lines. But without delving into the legality or technicalities of the act, I will move directly to addressing the elephant in the room – the problem with acceptance amongst local Kashmiris, especially the youth, which has been brainwashed into becoming the face of violence in the Valley.
It is vital to understand the root cause of the problem with the youth as they have no jobs and no means of earning a livelihood, and if they choose to pelt stones or indulge in illegal activities, then I can’t say that they are the ones to be blamed absolutely. The government, whether present or past regimes, was supposed to ensure the grants and schemes – which were formulated by the Centre – reached and benefitted the people of the Valley.
Many innocent lives have been lost in certain instances when the whole valley came to a standstill because of the curfew; a curfew imposed by the Centre. It is also true that there cannot be compensation enough for loss of life and, indeed, there has been a lot of inconvenience caused to the locals. The situation could be handled with more empathy by the government.
I am also of the strong view that there is no way the government can arm-twist their way into the valley by force, but what the Kashmiri people need to see is the silver lining. The State is now open to avail the benefits of several Indian laws and provisions; provisions related to the National Commission for Minorities, Right to Education, National Council for Teacher Education, land acquisition, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, Protection of Whistleblowers, welfare of parents and senior citizens, apart from 106 other laws which shall now be applicable to J&K. Locals will enjoy various benefits under the said laws and Acts which, in turn, will lead to improvement in the education and overall standard of living in the valley.
Now, coming to the possible solutions to the problem. As I understand it, this whole exercise by the government will be rendered worthless if the people don’t accept it whole-heartedly, as a State cannot exist without its people. I take the liberty here to suggest certain solutions to the problem at hand.
The first step can be the return of the Kashmiri Pundits who were displaced after their exodus in the 1990s. I understand that the Centre is regularly paying these immigrants cash relief under the Prime Minister’s Development Package of 2015, but the focus should shift toward immediately implementing a phase-wise return of these displaced people to their homeland, and providing them with some appropriate rehabilitation package to restart their lives.
The second step, according to me would be to not just give false assurances to the Kashmiri youth regarding government jobs, but actually act upon it and provide for it. This should be accomplished urgently by opening up special employment exchanges in addition to ones which were already in existence for the Kashmiri Youth.
The third step should focus on providing financial assistance with development projects like MNREGA and the Ujjwala scheme, along with ensuring Aadhar Cards for proper implementation and monitoring of such schemes with immediate effect.
And last, but not the least, should be to advertise, publicise and spread awareness about the benefits of assimilation with India in the long run.
With this, I sincerely hope the Centre restores full statehood to Jammu & Kashmir so that the unrest in the Valley ends soon, normalcy is restored, and the people of Kashmir leave the past behind them and accept themselves to be a part of India.
The author, Ayush Negi, is an Advocate in the Supreme Court. His work focuses on social justice reform for the underprivileged.
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