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Muscular policy not needed

Muscular policy not needed

Jammu & Kashmir Governor N N Vohra has clarified that he is not going to follow a 'muscular policy' in the state as some commentators have predicted. Rather, he will focus on better governance and confidence-building measures to bring about a change in the ground reality. He will also try to wean away the youth from the path of violence, and peace and development will be his priority, he said. This is the fourth time that Governor's rule has been imposed in the state in the last 10 years and on all these occasions, it was Vohra who administered the state. He is someone who is believed to be completely familiar with the ground reality and is expected to use his experience to provide an efficient government which will deal with the problems effectively. After the fall of BJP-PDP government in the state last week, political commentators had argued that the Centre wants to pursue a hardline approach in the troubled state. This feeling got further credence from the suspension of the ceasefire that the Centre had announced during Ramazan. During the period of ceasefire, security forces had suspended their operations against the militants but that did not help the situation improve. Rather, the violence continued unabated and the government looked helpless. The failure of the ceasefire to elicit any peace initiative from either the militants or the separatists left the Centre with no option but to call off the ceasefire and give the security forces a free hand to deal with the spike in violence. It appeared that the Centre has exhausted all initiatives to deal with the situation in the restive Kashmir valley. The Central government, which is ruled by BJP, saw no point in the party being part of the government that looked helpless before the menace unleashed by terrorists in the state. The Centre obviously had some plans to bring a turnaround in the situation and put the state on the path of peace and prosperity.

After pulling out of the Mehbooba Mufti government, BJP president Amit Shah had said that the decision was made in view of the state government's discriminatory attitude to Jammu and Ladakh regions. Mufti who was caught off guard by BJP's decision to withdraw from the government countered the BJP Chief's allegations and said that BJP was very much part of every decision made by the government. Jammu and Ladakh are Hindu and Buddhist dominated areas while the Kashmir valley, which is at the centre of an extremist and secessionist violence for decades, is a Muslim-dominated region. PDP has a support base in the Kashmir valley while BJP wields sway in Jammu and Ladakh regions. The two parties are ideologically poles apart and to run the coalition government, they had worked out an Agenda of Alliance. Given the dynamics of the state, where Pakistan army and Indian security forces are engaged in cross-border firing on a daily basis and the Kashmiri militants and separatists receive moral and material support from Pakistan, the Centre has to play its role in a decisive manner. Given the lack of options with the Centre but play a decisive and direct role, it allowed the state government to fall by withdrawing the support of BJP, which is in power at the Centre.

In view of the complex nature of the Kashmir problem, the Centre needs to determine its role with care and caution. A muscular policy against the militants is no aberration but to proclaim it as the only policy for the state would be a mistake. The Centre needs to win the confidence of the people and take them along in the peace and development initiatives that it takes. It also needs to show that it feels the pain of the common people who have suffered immensely during the past decades of violence and turmoil. The youth who are increasingly choosing the path of violence need to be given an alternative even as they need to be involved in development plans being planned and executed in the state. Governor Vohra who has the first-hand experience of working in the state can work on the task with multiple objectives. He is supposed to understand the problems facing the state and the options that the Centre has at its disposal better than any other representative of the Centre. He has seen the violence and its effects on the society from close quarters and can work for the amelioration of the suffering masses. He needs to pursue a policy that ensures fast-paced development in the state and gainful employment for the people. Through his work, he should see to it that the tourism industry is brought back to life.

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