Over the years Parliamentary Delegations, Interlocutors have been dispatched from New Delhi to Kashmir for conflict management, not for its resolution
New Delhi administration is not serious about conflict resolution in Kashmir. They only believe in conflict management and perpetuation of status quo. With these aims and objectives they depute parliamentary delegations and appointed interlocutors.
Ostensibly the purpose of interlocutory was a sincere dialogue with Kashmiris. But experience showed that the primary aim of interlocutory was to divert Kashmiri mind so as to buy more and more time. By the time the three interlocutors – Dilip Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar, and M.M. Ansari appointed in 2010 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – submitted their report, Kashmiris had forgotten about them. In February 2003, Prime Minister Vajpayee appointed N. N. Vohra as New Delhi’s interlocutor for Kashmir. In May 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up five working groups on Kashmir to recommend measures to improve I)Centre-State relations; II) economic relations across the Line of Control; III) economic development of Kashmir ; IV) rehabilitation of families of militants and reviewing of the cases of detainees; and V) good governance.
It took Justice Sagir Ahmad, the Convener of the Working Group on Centre-State Relations, three years to prepare his report. And when, on December 24, 2009, he submitted his report, he revealed the non-serious attitude of New Delhi in dealing with Kashmir. Instead of reporting to his appointing authority (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), he submitted his report to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. It is said that the report talked of grant of some sort of “autonomy” to Kashmir. Kashmiris wondered as to what would the Chief Minister of J&K do with the report?
At the height of 2010 uprising, when about 120 teenagers were gunned down by armed forces in Kashmir, a parliamentary delegation visited Kashmir. Once in Kashmir, they indulged in doublespeak. While talking to “separatist” leadership they insisted that they were here in their personal capacities. Anyway they enjoyed a picnic in the wounded paradise and returned.
So when they once again appeared in Kashmir last year, during the post-Burhan killing uprising, and repeated the same hypocrisy that they had come in their personal capacities, the “separatist” leadership was constrained to close their doors on them.
The latest arrival in Kashmir in the sphere of interlocutory has been former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha. Ostensibly he headed a “civil society” group that included former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah, retired Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, Editor Bharat Bhushan, and Programme Director, Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, Sushoba Barve.
Kashmiris believed that this group visited Kashmir at the behest of New Delhi Administration. Irrespective of whether this group was part of India’s political society or of the civil society, they seemed non-serious about conflict resolution.
In order to resolve a conflict, the first and the foremost condition is to know about the nature of the conflict. Knowledge of the nature of the conflict will lead to resolution. Yashwant Sinha, as also the rest of Indians who profess to be sympathetic to Kashmir, refuses to acknowledge the existence of a dispute over Kashmir. Their only concern seems to be the geopolitical goals of India. They want to see India as the Big Brother of Asia. To them Kashmiris are a nuisance who need to be gulled. And the best way they think they could do this is to invoke Vajpayee and present him to Kashmiris as a statesman, and a man of peace who stood for resolution of Kashmir Dispute. Was Vajpayee really what they project him to be? Let us see.
Vajpayee played a negative role at the time of genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in 2001 when he was the Prime Minister and had duties to perform; and at the time of Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992 which led to his ascension to Premiership half a decade later. When he became Prime Minister on 19 March 1998, his first act was to kick-start a nuclear arms race in south Asia by ordering carrying out of nuclear explosions on 11 May. As Jana Sangh chief in 1960s, he had mounted constant pressure on Indira Gandhi government to go nuclear.
In 1972, he met Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at Shimla and urged her not to release Pakistani POWs unless Pakistan was forced to bow down on Kashmir issue (p.172 My Country My Life, L. K. Advani). If India’s relations with Pakistan remained comparatively cordial during 1977-79, it was not because of him, but because of Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s sobering influence on the New Delhi Administration during those years.
Vajpayee was a hawk. He passed for a dove because of his sweet tongue with which he could mesmerize audiences. He visited Lahore in 1998, not to resolve Kashmir Dispute, but to introduce the status quo formula called Livingston Proposal.
New Delhi Administration should know that Kashmiris want to see a break in the status quo. If New Delhi is serious about resolving Kashmir, then the first and the foremost thing to do would be to accept the existence of a dispute instead of distorting facts about Kashmir and calling it a mere law and order problem.