By Sudip Bhattacharyya (Former banker, is a commentator on contemporary issues)
India has officially stated that Kashmir is an integral part of India, though the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, stated after the 2010 Kashmir Unrest that his government was willing to grant autonomy to the region within the purview of Indian constitution if there was consensus on this issue. Although, currently, it is a BJP govt headed by Modi is at the Centre, we may take this to be the outer limit for negotiation with the Kashmiries in the context of the continuing 60 days’ unrest in largely South Kashmir. This has been further confirmed when the PM called for a dialogue to find a permanent solution within the framework of the Indian Constitution.
Hurriyat leaders openly defy Indian Constitution and spurned any discussion with Indian all party delegation on Kashmir issue. Earlier opposition leaders persuaded GOI to arrange for such discussion with them. At least four leaders viz. Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Yadav, Jay Prakash and D Raja broke away from the delegation and went on separately to meet Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shah and Yasin Malik and were denied audience. They also faced separatist slogans. Shabir Shah and Abdul Ghani Bhatt refused to talk within the ambits of the Constitution. Assaduddin Owaisi met Miwaiz umar Farooq. Not surprisingly, he also refused to hold talk. These opposition leaders were not accepted as different from representatives of GOI by the Separatists and were openly spurned.
Yet, the opposition leaders refused to learn any lesson and are claiming that they have thereby made a small beginning; what it is nobody knows, And that the Central and the State govts .should carry it forward as a peace process. Most of these leaders are on the way to their political oblivion and therefore have come to Kashmir only to regain some relevance by muttering the usual clichés. Owaisi on the other hand is subtly conveying a message. He has said that he has apologized to the separatists for the loss of life and the wounds suffered by the protesters in his individual capacity as also as a MP. Since he is being perceived as representing the voice of Indian Muslim, the separatist would construe this as their support to the Separatist cause.
The point is that Kashmir problem particularly in the light of the stand of Hurriyat and the statement of apology by Owaisi have put an onus on Muslims of other parts of India to break their silence. If the Muslims as a community is seen as automatically supporting the Separatists, it would mean that they still hold on to the notorious Two Nations Theory that led to the creation of Pakistan as the homeland of the Muslims. Therefore, Kashmir is no longer a problem specific to Kashmir alone, but an all India problem with Muslims in the country having a very large stake in it.
From their aforesaid reaction, it is now clear that the Hurriyat is pro-Pakistan. This is also confirmed by their very recent statement: ‘Indian war machine is on a spree to kill, maim and disfigure an entire population into complete submission for demanding freedom.’ A sr. PDP leader has held Hurriyat attitude as not in conformity with the ‘Kashmiriat’. Hence there is no point in including them in the dialogue process, which is to be continued by the Centre and the State with an open mind and in all sincerity. It is time the Kashmiries come out with a clear proposal as a lasting solution in response to such overtures. For this, all the political parties, intellectuals and social workers in Kashmir must jointly put their foot together and forward after threadbare inter-se discussions.
Many believe that without association of Pakistan, no peaceful solution can be sustained. In that case, simultaneously with this dialogue, Indo- Pak talk can be resumed on an agenda that will consider autonomy on the same basis for Baluchistan, Gilgit and Azad Kashmir and Kashmir.
All this is necessary because Pakistan is not amenable to reason. Otherwise the best solution would be for both countries to agree to the international border along the Line of Control. US and UK are in favour of this.