The blasts that took place in Jammu’s Bajalta area, injuring ten persons, are an indication that there is no room for complacency in the fight against terrorism. While some may have doubts about the nature of the blasts, that these took place just before Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra and Republic Day celebrations, clearly indicates a message has been sought to be communicated by anti-India forces. There is no doubt that, on many levels, conditions have improved considerably in J&K but some fundamental issues still need resolution before ‘normalcy’ can be said to have been restored. While hard action against terrorists and their Pakistani promoters has been the dominant narrative, the restoration of political activity is required to provide the Union Territory an elected government and eventual return to the status of a full-fledged state.
Unfortunately, the traditional political parties – particularly in Kashmir – have failed to come to terms with the new reality. Leaders like Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah have resorted, ad infinitum, to playing the Pakistan card in the effort to continue the blackmail that had worked in earlier years. On its part, the Union Government is attempting to develop a ‘new Kashmir’ whose people will accept the present reality and break away from the stranglehold of the few families that profited from the so-called ‘autonomy’ of the past.
The ground is being sought to be prepared through fresh delimitation, enfranchisement of certain resident communities, and restructuring of the economy. Pakistan’s desperation is increasing, which is why there has been targeting of innocent civilians to try and widen the rift between communities. Despite the security forces’ efforts, networks of collaborators and radicalised youth continue to exist, which can be attributed to inadequate intelligence gathering, both in the territory and across the border. Perhaps, conventional methods need to be boosted with state of the art technology, AI and cyber techniques.
Unfortunately, most of India’s opposition parties have failed to provide the government the backing necessary to present a united front. They feel that this would give Prime Minister Modi and the BJP a boost in the elections. However, they should realise that, by not supporting the national cause, they are actually giving the BJP an even bigger boost. Anyway, time is running out as the Union Government’s policy approaches fruition. It remains to be seen when the next big moves will be made – in time for the General Elections, or immediately after. About time all parties wake up to the reality and its inevitability.