ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India and Kashmir

India has been unable to make the Kashmiris feel they are part of the Indian Union.

A fortnight ago the Jammu and Kashmir government signed an agreement with the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (SAYSS) on the use of forest land for the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine. The protesters are now off the streets in Jammu, the criminal road blockade the Jammu protestors had imposed on Kashmir has ended, a nine-day long curfew imposed in late August throughout the Kashmir Valley was lifted on September 2 and the Election Commission has even held discussions on the possibility of holding elections in December. But, far from there being any “peace” in Jammu and Kashmir, the state is now in the midst of yet another troubled phase which poses new and major challenges to its relations with the rest of the Indian Union. Elections in the state at this point will have two distinct faces: in Jammu they will be the site of a contest between shades of Hindutva; in Kashmir they will be held only under the barrel of a gun. Yet, not to have elections now will be an open admission that the state can be administered only with the rule of force.

The upheaval in both Kashmir and Jammu over land for the Amarnath yatra has changed politics irrevocably in these divisions of the state, but the two very different movements were only symbols of deeper trends. In Kashmir, it is now self-evident that the relative calm since 2004 was a false peace, the product more of ennui with 15 years of violence than of a movement forward in settling people’s grievances. All that was required was a spark for people to ret ur n to t he st reet s. That spark, however misrepresented it may have been by the f undamentalists in Kashmir, was provided by the allotment of 40 hectares of land to the Amarnath yatra by the former governor, S K Sinha, who was allowed by a sleeping New Delhi to take a decision that everyone realises, in retrospect, to have set the Valley on fire, and then, with its revocation, Jammu as well. In Jammu too, the Amarnath issue was only a symbol. Hindutva groups were quick in that part of the state to take advantage of an issue that gave vent to anger about widespread perceptions of the region being discriminated against and to long-standing complaints of a lack of autonomy

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