The historic move to revoke the special status of Jammu & Kashmir was aimed at integrating the troubled region with the rest of the country, ending Pakistan-sponsored militancy and ushering in a new era of development. However, one year down the line, none of the goals has been met and the situation continues to be grim. The wounds of the Valley continue to fester. A healing touch is required to restore peace. But, the wounds cannot be healed when a large number of leaders of mainstream political parties are behind bars and there are severe restrictions on the movement of people. Of the 7,357 people who were taken into preventive custody soon after the abrogation of Article 370, 451 are still under detention. They need to be released to calm the tempers. This must be followed up with a political outreach to hold talks with all the stakeholders to bring back normalcy to the strife-torn region. Since the report of the Delimitation Commission is likely to be delayed, restoration of its past status as a State immediately will have a soothing effect. When the NDA government abrogated Article 370 on August 5 last year, people were promised massive infusion of funds for development which had been impeded by terrorism and corruption. A clean, democratic and progressive administration was also promised. They still remain a mirage. The promised jobs have not materialised. In fact, J&K is now facing one of the worst-ever unemployment crises.
According to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, over 4 lakh people have lost their jobs in the last one year while the economy has suffered a loss of over Rs 40,000 crore. The security situation remains grim. The imposition of the two-day curfew on the eve of the first anniversary of the revocation of Article 370 is a reflection on the failure of the Centre in restoring normalcy. As many as 257 people, including 182 militants and 38 security personnel, have been killed in the Valley in the last one year. Of them, over 60% fatalities have been reported in the last four months. There can be no military solution to the Kashmir problem. A sincere attempt to heal the festering wounds of the past alone can help pave the way for Kashmir’s total assimilation and integration into India. Genuine engagement with the people through a message of hope and vision for a better future is the need of the hour because the continued detentions and security curbs will only make matters worse. The detention of politicians under the draconian Public Security Act (PSA) will result in further alienation of mainstream parties in the Valley and creation of a political vacuum, a recipe for strengthening separatism.
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