Every movement, whether it is social or political, comes with a time span; during this time span it takes root and branches out, it flowers and sometimes even bears fruit. Beyond this time span the movement quietly dies down irrespective of it having achieved its avowed goals or not. This normally happens when the movement loses momentum due to a lack of support at the grass roots level, in other words, it fails to become a mass movement. The Indian movement for independence from the British yolk is a classic example of a mass movement. The movement for Independent Kashmir however, does not fit the definition of a successful mass movement. If ever it did enjoy any measure of popular support, it has certainly become bereft of it now.
Rahul Gandhi’s recent a visit to Kashmir has struck an emotional chord with the youth, particularly the student community of the Valley. The students of the University totally ignored an edict by Syed Ali Shah Geelani to boycott the visit of the young national leader. This came as a slap in the face of the very same Geelani who had, till last year, called the shots in all anti-state agitations. The man who had held the state to ransom today commands no respect in the valley. This is because people have moved on. The new generation has its ear to the ground. It does not identify nor sympathise with the terrorist agenda. It would rather be part of the story of rebuilding the valley and in the process making something worthwhile out of its own life.
The only people who seem to be interested in keeping the issue alive are the politicians of the state, especially those of the separatist variety. They, in concert with a rather belligerent opposition, remain busy creating road blocks in the march towards peace and prosperity. The State government is forced to make conciliatory noises to offset the belligerent propagandist onslaught of the disruptive political forces. Of late, the Chief Minister, been referring to the institution of a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to look into the human rights violations committed during the period of active terrorism. In effect he is looking at ideals of peace, harmony, reconciliation and rapprochement with the intention to take the wind out of the oppositions vicious smear campaign. However, such ideas are out of sync with reality. Who, for instance, are the people who need to be engaged in the process of reconciliation? With whom does the state need to establish harmonious relations? And most important, where does the threat to harmony emerge from?
The main players in the Kashmir valley are the people, the Indian Union, the security forces, the political machinery, the secessionists and the terrorists. In which direction, one wonders, would this exercise in truth and reconciliation be directed? Certainly not towards the Union Government for it has never had anything other than peaceful intentions. Nor the security forces which are simply doing the bidding of the government which includes the State government. In fact, security forces have made a commendable contribution to bringing peace back to the State in general and the valley in particular, at a considerable loss of both men and material. Not only that, they are also at the forefront on occurrence of any kind of natural disaster or any other emergency ranging from inclement weather conditions to massive earthquakes. The political segment is as reconciled as it can be in a parliamentary democracy and there seems to be no case in engaging the same in such issues .
The only possibility that remains is the secessionists and the terrorists. Surely, nobody in Jammu and Kashmir would be interested in reconciling with either of the two. Also, they cannot be expected to come out with the truth regarding their involvement in the mayhem that the Valley has suffered for many decades. The intentions of both the secessionists and the terrorists have been established beyond doubt as being malafide. All they are interested in is disruption of peace harmony and any development that may be taking place in the region. People who are interested in peaceful solutions do not arrive surreptitiously into your homes and hearths armed with explosive devices and guns. Terrorists and militants simply do not have anything even remotely honourable on their minds let alone something as noble as truth and reconciliation. In fact, now it has been established beyond doubt that terrorist masters across the border are only interested the creation and spread of terror.
Finally, would not reconciliation with these elements be tantamount to being disloyal to all those security personnel and civilians who have lost their lives to this mindless and evil violence? Would it be in order to go ahead and reconcile with those very people who have created mayhem and caused grievous harm to innocent human beings in the region? Would this act not amount to ridiculing the sacrifice of those killed due to unmitigated violence?
Peace is fast emerging as a reality in Kashmir, the segments of terrorism that remain have been effectively contained; what is now important is the necessary amount of vigil that would ensure that terrorism can never raise its ugly head all over again and the era of peace can gain firm roots. Reconciliation has to be with the losses suffered, so as to move on in life despite the tragedies. Harmony has to be between the communities to pursue a common goal of development. All efforts need to be directed towards the process of rebuilding what has been lost both emotionally and materially, that is what truth and reconciliation is all about.