Bunkers and Hurriyat
By pulling down bunkers Govt has confirmed the nonviolent nature of separatist movement; Hurriyat should think of a radical bargain strategy.
The move may not evoke overwhelming applaud because such gestures in past have never moved beyond symbolism. However the step, if carried forward in tandem with political initiatives, is bound to create a real goodwill on ground. At a time when even the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah shares concern with separatists at least on troop-cut in Kashmir, New Delhi critically needs to translate such gestures into productive actions. Lot of symbolism in past has culminated on more trouble; this is the time when words flying down from Delhi should sound not just true but should also appear true on ground.
Removal of bunkers from populated areas is in fact part of the eight-point proposal that came up after at least forty lawmakers from India visited Kashmir at the height of political and administrative breakdown. This had been proposed by the all party delegation that recently visited the troubled Valley. Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar have yet again given out an ill-calibrated response. Rejecting anything or everything that comes from Delhi has been a wanton practice in Kashmir’s separatist politics. Rather than dismissing the removal of bunkers as eyewash the separatists should have welcomed it and thrown a challenge before the state government by identifying more such spots where they want a sort of ‘local demilitarization’.
True the state apparatus in J&K has an undemocratic and authoritarian demeanor but the separatist camp must do some rethink over the need to have a bargain strategy. States, they must understand, cannot be outsmarted by street campaigns. And, the states concede, neither to armed rebellions nor to street fighting. A strong state concedes only to a stronger state. However, by organizing enough moral isolation to the state, the people can force it to think. This much has been achieved by Geelani and the next step is to bargain. But the political culture Hurriyat has grown used to is not of bargain, it is of confrontation or tacit reconciliation. Even if New Delhi’s latest CBM in the form of removing some bunkers is not a sincere initiative, this could not be scotched by a handout. When you mark a transition from militancy to politics, the battle should define the collusion of ideas not egos. As compared to state government Hurriyat Conference enjoy social sanctity for variety of reasons. It should not, therefore, shy away from adopting a radical bargain strategy. The engagement with New Delhi should be unzipped from the confines of accepting or rejecting something. But, to acquire a bargain strategy the institution of dialogue has to be recognized in spite of past abortions. Syed Ali Geelani has already moved a step by proposing CBMs; he can walk an extra mile by pin pointing the security installation that need be removed. This would give credence to the process of conciliation and the authorities in Delhi would start thinking afresh on the CBMs that may be following.