The extension of the so-called Ramzan ceasefire, which expired on Saturday, is the way forward.
If the government can hold its nerve, and convert the recent Id-eve tragic assassination of Kashmir’s prominent editor Shujaat Bukhari by the dark forces operating in J&K into an opportunity, it may yet be enabled to succeed in a retrieval act. Popular aspiration in Kashmir is crying out for this.
The Modi government has engaged in a mindless pursuit of militarism alone as a solution to the issues thrown up in Kashmir. This is a sterile course. It can offer no solace to ordinary people in their violence-torn day-to-day lives.
In the larger field of politics, it can bring no laurels as genuine democrats and middle-of-the-road people in Kashmir retire from the field and women and men of goodwill are forced to surrender arms, leaving the terrorists, the Islamists, and the planners across the border, an open gateway. The funeral of the murdered editor held in his native overgrown village of Kreeri, some 30 kilometres north of Srinagar, and until not long ago a hotbed of militancy, on Friday saw mourners arrive in their tens of thousands — an unheard of event in the recent annals of Kashmir.
This is an emphatic rejection at the symbolic level of all sources of violence. The senior journalist was killed because he promoted — while walking a dangerously thin line in Kashmir’s specific context — dialogue and conversation, and did not endorse ideologies of violence.
In the manner ordinary Kashmiris have dealt with their most recent tragedy lies an instruction for the Modi government to pay heed to the voice of moderation, and to seize the moment for a positive construction of politics and administrative policies in respect of J&K. After the repeated failure of the regime in New Delhi to pay heed to the voice of Kashmir, the people are offering the government yet another chance. They have a right to receive a more hopeful response.
The extension of the so-called Ramzan ceasefire, which expired on Saturday, is the way forward. It will not automatically bring an end to terrorist violence. What it will bring about is a confrontation between terrorist violence and popular will if the policy is executed with due sensitivity, without propagandist bombast. In turn, this can potentially lead to a smoother environment for preparing for the looming Amarnath yatra and calming the situation beyond that annual Hindu pilgrimage.
If terrorism has been enabled to raise its profile dangerously in the Valley in the past two years, it is on account of the government’s failure to pursue a politics of moderation while taking on terrorism and jihadism. It is this which has marginalised the voices of moderation and tolerance whose quiet influence typically challenges the cause promoted by Pakistan in Kashmir. These voices have to be re-appointed to their traditional place in Kashmir’s society — and politics.