As is evident, the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat has seemingly adopted a ‘hardliner’ view of the Kashmir problem and the solutions for ‘deradicalisation’.
His suggestions are interesting, perhaps because of the reference to Pakistan’s deradicalisation camps, and the US response to the 9/11 attack.
However, his comments come at a crucial juncture – Kashmir’s autonomous status stands scrapped despite the growing demands for Kashmiri self-determination.
It is no surprise that India seeks no sustainable solutions to the Kashmir militancy issue. Successive governments have relied on the use of brute force to subdue the crisis. Attempts to arrive at the root of the problem seem non-existent.
As a matter of fact, democracies exist to serve only one interest – interests of the people concerned. If successful nation-building is a process to be undertaken, people must feel at peace with their identity, and only they should make laws that concern themselves.
The concept of autonomy seeks to draw from this ideal of democracy. The real question here is – should a democratic government’s stand fall in line with the view of the majority of the country which has absolutely no stakes in the Kashmir issue? Article 370 was one such issue. Autonomy conferred to the state by virtue of the article was another. Successive governments diluted the latter. The Modi government abrogated the former.
As ruling power, governments must systematically attempt to understand and enquire into people’s behaviour. Those who have the power to command resources and support can and should engage in knowledge-building endeavours. Understanding why citizens behave the way they do is crucial to mitigating conflicts and tensions.
When feelings of national integration triumph over human rights and need for self-determination, it is the democracy that is being subdued. A democratic state always has adequate capacity for autonomy and regional voices. A theocratic fascist state only relies on brute force and minority suppression.
The only viable solution to the Kashmir situation is the one that can be achieved via dialogue and consensus, with not only Kashmir, but also other stakeholders like Pakistan. Any other means, be it violence, crackdown, communication blockade are unsustainable.
In light of this, the hardliner view of counter-insurgency, as propagated by CDS Rawat, does not account for structural changes, and doesn’t attack the root cause of the problem.
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