It was a ‘monumental blunder’ and a year has been wasted in Kashmir: Md Yousuf Tarigami  

Delhi and UT administration have utilised pandemic and security induced lockdown to pass contentious laws without consultation, confident that there would be no resistance, says Mohammad Tarigami

 CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami  
CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami

Gulzar Bhat

Srinagar-based rights bodies Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in their bi-annual report mentions of 32 civilians, 143 militants and 54 security personnel killed from January to June 2020. Meanwhile, on July 24, Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh confirmed that ceasefire violations by Pakistan had also increased by 50 to 60 percent in 2020 compared to last year.

“None of the claims made by the Government in August 2019 has been vindicated on the ground. Normalcy is a distant dream and there has not been any prosperity or development”, says Prof. Noor Ahmad Baba.

The crackdown that followed led to the detention and house-arrest of thousands of political activists including three former chief ministers—Dr Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

While the Abdullahs have now been released, Mufti continues to remain in detention. In his first media interview to Indian Express on July 26, Omar Abdullah did say that his party did not agree with or accept what had been done to Jammu & Kashmir. But by and large, political leaders have been muted in their criticism of the Centre.

Revocation of the special status of J&K, observers believe, strengthened and vindicated the stand of the separatists. “The government has killed mainstream, pro-India politics in Kashmir “, says Shahnawaz Mantoo. National Conference (NC) spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar also agrees that New Delhi had successfully discredited mainstream politicians in J&K.

“These parties contested elections in the troubled nineties. It cost us dearly as thousands of our workers fell to bullets of militants’ “, recalled Dar. But now they are at the receiving end of ridicule.

“New Delhi and the UT administration have utilised the pandemic and security induced lockdown to pass contentious laws without consultation, confident that there would be no resistance,” says CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami.

In April the government rolled out a new domicile law. While people in Kashmir fear that the law would bring about demographic changes in the Valley, people of Jammu are equally concerned about losing jobs and business to outsiders. “We will now be thrown out of universities and professional colleges as well”, fears Sanjay Kotwal, a postgraduate student from Jammu.

Sheikh Ashiq, President Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) estimates losses suffered by businesses at 5.3 billion dollars. Every sector from tourism to handicrafts to IT had suffered gargantuan losses, he says, “There has hardly been any business since August 5 last year”.

Thousands of people have lost their job due to the protracted lockdown. The restricted data services have forced many small IT companies to fold up. The planned global investors’ summit has been postponed twice. Investment is unlikely to come in conflict zones. Sustained peace alone will induce investment.

New Delhi has also successfully internationalized the issue of Kashmir after a long gap. While Pakistan and China predictably made common cause over Kashmir, even US President Trump offered to mediate. The US Congressional committees and the UN have also taken note of the developments in Kashmir.

What is more, pro-Pak sentiments in the Valley are arguably at an all-time high and so is the popularity of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who delivered an impassioned speech in the United Nations last year while drawing attention of the international community to the situation in Kashmir

“Jackboots have kept people quiet but undercurrents of betrayal and discontentment are running through Jammu and Kashmir” says Tarigami.

“August 5 was a monumental blunder,” he believes.

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