Thursday, May 26, 2011 - J&K: Rendering Democratic Space into a Subversive Space by Ajay Chrungoo

J&K: Rendering Democratic Space into a Subversive Space

Ajay Chrungoo


Developments in the Middle East have created an impact in Jammu and Kashmir which witnessed a disturbed last summer. Events in Egypt and elsewhere have almost evaporated the public demoralization in Kashmir valley that had set in after the failed ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign, and once again created a hope amongst the rank and file of the separatists that their tactics on the street may bear fruit in the near future.




The ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign relied on violent mass mobilization, resorting to sustained stone-pelting assaults on police and paramilitary forces, hartals and protest demonstrations to bring public life and government functioning to a standstill. The campaigners were driven by a hope that the sustained mobilizations would galvanize international opinion in their favour. They believed the public outcry would force President Obama who was scheduled to visit India to exert more pressure on the Government of India to come to terms with the separatists and Pakistan. They hoped Indian political consensus on Kashmir would be further weakened to resist pressures for change of status quo in Kashmir in favour of the separatists.




After the happenings in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, the Indian Prime Minister tried to assure the nation that, “whatever happens in the Gulf or in West Asia including the countries mentioned (Egypt) is a matter of concern to us… replication of such events is not possible in India, because India is a functioning democracy… There is no question that things that have happened in Egypt and other Arab countries can be replicated in India.” Dr Manmohan Singh’s statement could not hide the nervousness which has beset his government in the Centre and the ruling alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. “I hope summer this year will be peaceful… I have no power to predict the future. I can only say that there are continuous efforts on our part to ensure that there is no repeat of summer unrest in 2011,” has been the refrain of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. More conspicuous is the disconnect between the perceptions of the Prime Minister and that of the people in the Kashmir valley. 



The author is chairman, Panun Kashmir