Once known for its serene beauty, the brutal occupation of Kashmir by Indian forces has turned the valley into a textbook example of colonisation. The killing fields of Kashmir dwarf those of Palestine and Tibet. And after 9/11 the liberation struggle in Kashmir was conveniently subsumed under the war on terror by India.
However, the younger generations of Kashmiri people have overthrown the fears of repression and torture. Despite brutal crackdowns and violent measures to curtail dissent, they enjoy the most dissenting phase of the struggle. Along with their courage in the face of Indian Occupation and the recent meeting of Sushma Swaraj with Pakistan’s envoy, Sohail Mahmood, to India, the Indian government has realized that the only way forward is to hold dialogue with all stakeholders. For this matter, the Indian government has decided to include All Parties Hurriyat Conference as well as those who have sought refuge in weapons against Indian occupation.
Commenting on the shift in India’s policy and giving a complete autonomy to Dinsehwar Sharma, ex-Intelligence Chief, on bringing anyone he wants to negotiations, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “There is no bar on him to talk to one group and not another... We want to understand aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Though the statement of Home Minister is encouraging, it is worth recalling that the people of Kashmir had already stated time and time again their aspirations. The only actor that has remained deaf so far was India. With the latest development that has taken place in New Delhi, it is hoped that India has finally realized that the unrest in the valley was the product of their cruel policies towards the people of the region. Hence the government in Delhi felt the need to change its policies if it wanted to curtail the people’s anger that was heading in not so pleasant directions.
With what is deemed as the first conciliatory initiative by the Modi government since it came to power, the said representative of Delhi will initiate interaction and dialogue. It is hoped that the recent initiative will not prove just eyewash to satisfy the foreign demands and criticism of Indian brutalities against the people who want nothing short of independence. We have seen such tactics to get away with international pressure by successive Indian governments with the foundations laid down by the much-celebrated Indian Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru.
Therefore it is worth lauding Delhi’s initiative and dialogue process with a hope that such initiatives will prove helpful in resolving the long-standing issue of Kashmir. If undertaken with sincerity, this can be a beginning of a new era for a better South Asia and cooperation between neighbouring countries.