By Sagarneel Sinha
Now that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is gone, the major challenge ahead of New Delhi is to win the hearts of local Kashmiris and bring peace in the valley torn by violent conflicts for decades. That’s not an easy task. A large section of Kashmiris have been under the influence of separatists — agents of Pakistan — who see India as “an oppressor to their culture and identity”. Although we shouldn’t forget the fact that India itself is a land of diversity — a combination of many religions, ethnic communities, languages and cultures. But, New Delhi also has its own history of blunders for its inability to prevent the Pakistan supported separatists’ propaganda — which gave immense strength to terrorism in the valley leading to the exodus of the minority Hindu Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir.
There is no doubt about the success achieved by the security forces in the valley, particularly in recent years, in eradicating the terrorists — and this process of neutralizing the terrorists should continue with no breaks in between. But, one shouldn’t forget the fact, despite a spree of deaths of terrorists, a section of youths in the valley are becoming terrorists for the cause of jihad against the State of India. Also, there is a large section of youths who, although don’t join terrorism, but still continue to support the cause of these jehadis — this is evident from the gatherings in funerals of the terrorists.
Actually, the main culprit in the valley is the extremist Islamic ideology called Wahabism — which is accused by many for spreading terrorism globally. It is this ideology which is in a continuous process giving birth to terrorists. Truth is in Kashmir whenever a terrorist is killed, it only ignites another youth to pick up a gun against India. The seed of terrorism has to be wiped out along with neutralizing the terrorists — if peace in Kashmir has to be achieved. New Delhi shouldn’t be only busy to kill the terrorists as it has been doing for years — it also should now focus to draw strategies to prevent the youths of the valley from joining terrorism. New Delhi shouldn’t be repeating the mistakes that Washington did in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
New Delhi should work in two fronts — using military action and propagating a moderate ideology to replace the roots of the violent ideology of Wahhabism — which is well stretched across the grounds of the valley. Kashmir has been the important centre for Hinduism, particularly Shaivism — continuance of the holy Amarnath Yatra bears the testimony of it. Also, it has been the bed of Sufism, the moderate Islamic ideology. Not to forget that once Buddhism also thrived in the valley. It is said that a separate 4th Buddhist Council was held by the Sarvastivad Buddhists in Kashmir under the patronage of emperor Kanishka belonging to the Kushan dynasty.
So, New Delhi should start the process of reaching out to the Kashmiris through Sufism — which may eventually bridge the gap between New Delhi and the people of the valley, who still belief that “their own culture faces an imminent threat from India’s government”. Through Sufism, New Delhi will not only blunt the extremist ideology in the valley but will also redress the “fear of cultural threat” of Kashmiris from India. Also, it should take strict action against those dens that propagate separatism in the valley.
Presently, there is a complete political vacuum in the valley and New Delhi should also use this golden chance to fill it up — by creating new political leaders who understand the Kashmiri culture and also should be nationalists. However, they shouldn’t be just puppets of New Delhi — the blunder that Washington did in Iraq after dethroning its dictator Saddam Hussein. Kashmir needs new mainstream leaders who should focus on overall development of the valley and at the same time should also be trained to prevent the youth from coming under the influence of Pakistan aided separatism.
However, for that to happen, first of all, New Delhi has to ease the lockdown in the valley which is creating problems for the patients — who are in need of emergency services. Obviously, this would also create new problems, particularly resuming the services of internet, for New Delhi. But, New Delhi has to one day resume the internet services. So, it would be better for the government to slowly resume the internet services and before this, it should create a social media cell for Kashmir which would continuously monitor the social media by deleting the separatist social posts and also propagate India’s views strongly through the social media in the valley.
This is the age of the internet and just by closing it is not going to serve the problem for longtime — if not for a short time. Instead, the government should use the internet to blunt Pakistan’s separatist idea — which also heavily relies on social media for its survival.
In this way, New Delhi will be able to deal with Islamabad in its own game. Also, the complete shutdown in the valley will only alienate the people in the valley — which may only make the situation more difficult for New Delhi to win the hearts of the Kashmiris. So, New Delhi should instead look for a solid strategy to counter Pakistan aided separatist agenda, which is already well grounded in the valley, in the social media and should also start slowly to end its clampdown in the valley. (IPA Service)