Eyebrows are raised at the visit of a “select” team of European Union law makers to the Kashmir Valley. The group photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the EU MPs as part of the red carpet extended to them said it all. While supporters of the Modi government’s Kashmir policy hail it as a “truth tour” and an “excellent diplomatic strike”, critics denounce it as a “guided tour” and a “face-saving exercise”. Touted or decried, it is obvious that it has been arranged to validate the government’s claim of normalcy in Kashmir.
The clear signal is that the government is badly in need of a certificate of normalcy from the EU MPs to corroborate its version of the situation in the Valley even at the cost of further internationalising the Kashmir issue. The government has not agreed to an all-party delegation of Indian parliamentarians to Kashmir, but it has given foreign parliamentarians access, exemplifying its skewed and self-serving nationalism in the process.
EU MPs hired, hosted and detailed to demolish the lockdown claim of Lutyen’s lobby represent ultra-right wing with
Islamophobia and neo-fascist sympathies and they cannot be expected to make an objective assessment of the situation on the ground by interacting with a representative cross-section of society ranging from apple growers and traders, houseboat men, hoteliers, weavers, shopkeepers and schoolchildren. The high-profile panel stands to lose credibility when it meets army officers and does not meet the leaders under detention.
A lot more than the promise of development is needed to address the sense of being occupied and subjugated. Something more than enumerating the “advantages” accruing from the revocation of special status is needed to wean the people away from their voluntary and peaceful civil disobedience. The humanitarian crisis in Kashmir is of the government’s own making. The government can and must win the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir by rescinding its decision to abrogate Article 370 and taking steps to fulfil their legitimate political aspirations.
G David Milton Maruthancode
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