Narendra Modi and Amit Shah
PM Narendra Modi with Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the BJP headquarters | File Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
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With Amit Shah at the helm of affairs as the Union home minister, the Narendra Modi government will now take on the Kashmir issue much more assertively than it did in its first term.

One of the key shifts in the new government’s approach to Kashmir is that while prior to May 2019 the focus was on dealing with separatists with an iron hand, the focus now is to make the Kashmiri separatist and dynast leaders irrelevant altogether.

The Modi government is of the firm view that the National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and outfits like All India Hurriyat Conference have no influence beyond a handful of districts in the Valley. And, the top leadership of these parties have not allowed new leadership to emerge from the grassroots level.

These parties and outfits have been given undue weight, which doesn’t actually match their outreach or impact. The people of the state must stop relying on the Abdullah, Mufti and Nehru-Gandhi dynasties to help them solve the Kashmir problem.


Also read: After muscular policy, Modi govt hopes to win hearts of Kashmiris with ‘soft power’


The problem in the state

An analysis of panchayat polls held in the state during November-December 2018 helped the Modi government reach this decision. The local body elections were boycotted by both the NC and the PDP.  But contrary to common perception and the apprehensions of naysayers, people turned out in large numbers with overall voting percentage at an impressive 74 per cent.

The most visible impact of this boycott was confined to only four districts of South Kashmir – Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag and Pulwama. It was proof of the limited influence of the PDP and the NC.

So, the ‘New Kashmir Policy’ will focus more on building up a non-PDP, non-NC leadership from the grassroots level. Amit Shah, in his recent Rajya Sabha speech, said that he will crush “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism with the help of locals”. Shah’s outreach to the people of Jammu and Kashmir will ensure that political intermediaries, who want to maintain the status quo in the state, will soon become irrelevant.

For the last seven decades, successive governments relied on a certain set of leaders from a handful of families in the region to solve the Kashmir problem – namely the Abdullahs, the Muftis and the Nehru-Gandhis. The Modi government is of the view that the time has come for the people of Kashmir to move away from these families –they are not part of the solution, but actually, a part of the problem.


Also read: Full text of Amit Shah’s speech in parliament, laying out classic RSS/BJP view on Kashmir


The new Kashmir policy

The Modi government has a new multi-pronged Kashmir policy. The first part of the policy involves scaling up military action against terrorists in Kashmir.

The second part of this policy involves the relentless pursuit of individuals and outfits who claim to be self-styled representatives of the Kashmiri Muslims, and support radicalism, directly or indirectly. No one will be spared, however influential. The National Investigation Agency’s summons to the grandson of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani in relation to a terror funding case is proof of the Modi government’s steadfast commitment to this new policy.

The NIA has already seized assets worth about Rs 1,400 crore and has launched an investigation in 21 cases, Amit Shah said in Parliament. The Central Board of Direct Taxes and Enforcement Directorate are working overtime in the state identifying, tracking and shutting down all means to fund terrorist activities.

A massive crackdown on Jamaat-e-Islami has already begun. The outfit has a strong influence in south Kashmir and is largely held responsible for turning the four districts in the region into the hub of terrorism. This crackdown is going to get stronger in days to come until the outfit is made completely redundant.

Similarly, tougher action is being taken against separatists, not just cosmetic ones. Many of these leaders have been shifted to prisons outside Srinagar to places like Jhajjar and Hisar in Haryana and Tihar prison in Delhi. This is to ensure that the Valley does not come under their influence. The Modi government is no longer interested in treating them with velvet gloves.


Also read: Modi govt shows shift in Kashmir policy but a lot depends on Hurriyat, and Amit Shah


In a nutshell, the Centre is sending a message that it doesn’t consider the existing separatist leadership in the Valley to be the bona fide representative of the common people. It rather prefers to deal with people directly through the administrative apparatus by making it more robust and efficient.

One important shift in the new Kashmir policy is the redefining of ‘Kashmiriyat’. There is a big push to ensure that ‘Kashmiriyat’ doesn’t remain confined to merely Kashmiri Muslims. For Modi government, ‘Kashmiriyat’ is an all-inclusive concept– it takes into account the culture, traditions and stakes of Gujjar Bakarwals, Pahadis, Baltis, Dogras, Buddhists and Kashmiri Pandits.

The writing on the wall is clear: Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are discarding the old guard in the state and building a new leadership from the grassroots.

The writer is CEO of Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra. He has authored two books on the RSS. Views are personal.

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5 Comments Share Your Views

5 COMMENTS

  1. Amit Shah’s speeches in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have indeed been very impressive. As a first time minister, he displayed a complete knowledge and command over the Kashmir issue and he could express it effectively which many so called Kashmir specialists have not been able to do. He has clearly laid out mistakes of Congress in the past. He defined in interesting way the terms, Insaniyat, Jamooriyat and Kashmiriyat, with which no one can find any fault. He has reiterated that as per J&K Constitution itself, J&K is an integral part of India and hence, there is no question of separatism being permitted and terrorism supported by Pakistan or otherwise must end. If he carries sincerely from here, we can hope to have a some definite changes in J&K. At the minimum, all the three regions will get equal attention and support, role and importance of three families in politics of J&K will diminish and J&K can see economic development in the course of time. Over a period of time, this will help BJP to go take up the issue of article 35A and 370.

  2. Prima facie policy looks effective. Cutting income sources should bring them to knees. There should be honest execution of this policy and HM should not tangle into be in power at the cost of comprising this policy. There should be more income sources / employment opportunities to the youth. Also rest of India should be encouraged to visit paradise, improve transport means like they have being doing in NE.

    We trusted Modi 2.0 with great expectations not because of Balakot or to save cows we are not fools as Rahul Gandhi and whole world is trying to prove.

  3. Everbody..who follows these affairs knows the fact that these parties and the hurriat r all redundant to kashmir…surprised that this ws not done earlier..probably the PM ws constrained by “other” factors…
    posters need to b put up in the valley as to how all the children of these so called hurriat revolutionaries are studying and r having cushy jobs abroad….
    The “dukaan” that all these people..(.hurriat..cong .. other politcal parties of kashmir..NGO’s…foriegn govts and certain indian “establishments”) wt vested interests.is now over….THAT “shop”…is now SHUT for good…by implementing progressive grassroot projects..the people of kashmir will be bought into the mainstream…and the PM and HM will implement it.that there wl b no doubt about it..
    .

  4. That’s really thinking something different….the spirit of democracy is people and people all over. Problem arises when certain individuals form a group and make us believe that they represent the people. When there are no huge cadre and when there is no internal democracy in these groups and outfits how can they be termed as people’s representatives.
    If Modi II feels that the people at large are to be involved and true representations determined, it would be worthwhile to go ahead explore and experiment.
    The leaders may come out of panchayat level to districts and unto state level. The present leadership of course is dynast and self styled giving no space to emerge new leadership.
    But the Govt will be well advised to control the greed of grabbing the power at the state. The govt has to be honest in giving way to local people, especially the youth to come up and take responsibility of the state. The administration has to become proactive, welfare measures are to be speeded up and benefits to go to real beneficiaries. Separatists are to be separated from the general public and a spirit of encouraging and uplifting Kashmiriyat to be made known to the public. There has to be respect and love for the local culture, customs and religions too.
    Allover humanity the common thrust of the people always remains peace and well being. People loose the track and become misguided only when the main path to peace and progress is not visible.
    What about Modi ji camping for few days at Kashmir only to listen to everyone coming in. What about him personally monitoring the Vikas and Viswas of Kashmiries for a while!
    The mainland of India has to be opened up for Kashmir and greater PR undertaken to inform, educate and enrich the people at large. There is nothing better than taking people along the path of growth and prosperity!

  5. Great move. I hope Modi and Shah start a process that will make these anti-India entities in the Valley totally irrelevant.

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