In 2018, Jammu & Kashmir
has been roiled by upheavals, political contestation and assassinations on a scale not seen in recent years. It began after the rape of an eight-year-old in Kathua, a small town near the border with Punjab. State leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party
were seen supporting the men accused of kidnapping, gang-raping and killing the child from a Muslim tribal community. Two BJP lawmakers even participated in a rally to demand justice for the arrested men, all Hindus. As tensions rose, by June, the BJP and the People’s Democratic Party
(PDP), the ruling coalition, had had enough of each other. In June, BJP yanked support from Mehbooba Mufti’s government. The signs were there for months, but the break-up still surprised Mufti, who handed in her resignation to Governor N N Vohra shortly after. “Our agenda was healing touch, we can’t treat Jammu and Kashmir
as enemy territory,” she told reporters. “It had become untenable to continue with the PDP in Kashmir,” said BJP leader Ram Madhav, defending the move that left the state under Governor’s rule for the fourth time since 2008 and eight times since 1977. A few months later, Vohra was replaced by career politician
Satyapal Malik, who has been unable to restore normalcy. After the government collapsed, the Governor should have made efforts to see if a government could be formed from the existing legislative Assembly. But just when Sajjad Lone, an independent and son of a former separatist leader, explored the possibilities of forming a government with the BJP, and the PDP chose to ally with its arch-rivals National Conference to stake a claim as well, Malik dissolved the Assembly, leaving political parties with no option but to face the hustings again. Although the Indian Army
has been forthright about the need to make the political leadership accountable for the events in the embattled state, healing and reconciliation appear to be nowhere in sight.