Kashmir : Right to Self-Determination & Politics of Exclusion


Since the beginning of unrest in the month of June, 52 people have died in Kashmir & hundred others were injured in this land of Paradise, while one more dead body of an 18 year youth Faraq Bukhari is fished out. Faraq was allegedly picked up by Security forces from his village on July 28th and his dead body was found in a stream, in north Baramulla district.
On 10th August, Prime Minister met the J&K team in New Delhi and addressed an All Party Meeting hosted by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Mr. Manmohan Singh spoke emotionally regarding issues faced by people of Kashmir, emphasizing on the need to provide jobs & meeting the aspirations of the youth. Prime Minister cajoled the J&K police & underlined the importance of protecting families of law enforcing agencies. Prime Minister’s speech has invoked mixed responses.
Mehabooba Mufti, President of PDP & her party continued its politics of bickering and stayed away from the meeting as it was “hosted” by Chief Minister; on the contrary her party expected PM to convene the proceedings.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq , Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) was sordid & unmoved by Prime Minister’s appeal. Mirwaiz said Prime Minister looked at the Kashmir issue from a Prism of Economics. He said “Kashmir is not an economic but a political problem concerning the aspirations of Kashmiris. Ironically, the PM treated it as an economic problem rather a Centre-State issue. The Kashmir dispute can’t be resolved unless people are given the right to self-determination,” Mirwaiz maintained.
He said the aspirations of Kashmiris were no different from the aspirations of people of India and Pakistan when they fought against the British.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Chairman of Hurriyat (G) was prompt in his criticism of PM’s speech. Widely considered a separatist hawk, Geelani said, the youth of Kashmir is taking to streets & sacrificing its life for a broader cause than mere want of jobs & economic packages and the cause is “Right of Self Determination”.
Thankfully, there is some unanimity in the approach, among the principal parties of Kashmir, National Conference & PDP. Both of them argue that separatists hold sway over the emotions of youth in particular & people of Kashmir in general, hence separatists should be involved in the discussions for finding an appropriate political solution to Kashmir.
While Prime Minister has conceded to consider autonomy to J&K, within the purview of constitution, separatist demand immediate repealing of Armed Forces Protection Act & withdrawal for forces from the valley. Hurriyat also demands Government of India to accept Kashmir as a “Disputed area” & invite Government of Pakistan and People of Kashmir to the table, pending long since the independence of India, in order to achieve a viable political solution for issues concerning Kashmir.