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Your cover story, Let’s Talk Kashmir is indeed thought provoking and conclusive (July 16). Kashmir has been ruled by parties like the Congress, National Conference, BJP and PDP since Independence, but no party has actually realised the right course of action to be taken for the sustainability of the region. The draconian AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) has trapped the state in its perennial clutches, layering peoples’ lives and memories with never-ending narratives of violence. It is nothing but a permanent solution to a people’s doom. Lives on either side will continue to be lost when the security forces and the people are at war with each other. First step: we have to revoke AFSPA. Then, the central government should start a conference with political parties, student organisations of Kashmir, separatists, and the other big and small stakeholders to find a way out of this bloody quagmire. If the people of Kashmir demand self-governence, excluding the power of defence and foreign policy and agree to be ruled by tenets of the Indian Constitution, then this must be granted without delay. Only this can begin to quell the problem of militancy. We have to lend a humanitarian hand to the public of Kashmir. Merely criticising militants and killing them equals to working against the spirit of democracy.
Ashim Kumar Chakraborty, Guwahati
There is nothing in the world that can’t be resolved. Like everyone else, the people of Kashmir want to live a life without fear. But the current situation doesn’t allow for even a semblance of normalcy. The needful must be done: isolate and check the elements spreading poison and thwarting peace efforts in the state and strengthen the Kashmiri people through focussed development efforts.
Neeru Mishra, On E-Mail
It’s an open secret that Pakistan remains a key spoiler, encouraging and abetting terrorism in Kashmir. What Kashmir needs is the deepening of democracy, not tactical, cynical political alliances.
Padmini Raghavendra, Secunderabad
Barkha Dutt was an apt facilitator for the Kashmir round table. From her role in the Radia Tapes—none other than Outlook’s legendary founder-editor, Vinod Mehta, confirmed it—to covering the Kargil war, she has covered the whole spectrum in journalism.
Richa Juyal, Dehradun
No wonder that the Kashmir fiasco has worsened under Modi’s governance. The BJP started their alliance with PDP arrogantly, assuming that Kashmir would be an easy target for them. Under former-PM Manmohan Singh, Kashmir was just a problem. But under Modi, it has been cultivated into a leviathan.
T. Santhanam, On E-Mail
The cover story, read with the Homeward diary doesn’t offer an impartial approach. The problem has been created and kept aflame for seven decades by politicians of all shades with the sole intention to gain political mileage. Thousands of precious human lives have been lost and crores of rupees wasted in Kashmir without any tangible benefit to the country as a whole. Moreover, who will listen to your ‘human’ voices in this wilderness!
M.A. Ahad, On E-Mail
The Diary page by Siddhartha Gigoo was an impactful read. It succinctly described the Kashmir situation. If only the armed forces were moved out of the troubled land.
Sankar Ganapathi, Coimbatore
Kashmir is a state which, though very much a part of India, is still alienated because of the sinister nature of geopolitics and the lack of cohesive development. The Kashmiri people, especially the teenagers, are longing for a permanent solution and want a peaceful and prosperous life. But, is the State even listening?
Unless a consensus is reached among all stakeholders for unity and peace, the state of Kashmir will always be an isolated and hostile spot in the country.
The initiatives and actions implemented by successive governments have not reached the core of the issue, where politics is not the key for the people. Almost three decades of insurgency has already claimed the wealth of Kashmir and its people. The lesson learned from the past is that whatever has been done so far was not the right option for settling the issue, and a new formula of open talk, without military intervention, might be helpful in resolving the problems.
Political parties must not consider Kashmir on par with other states in the country. Kashmir has been unique ever since it got assimilated in the Indian nation state. Obviously, Kashmir needs its youth to be educated, cities to be revamped and the basics of common people to be restored. The most challenging part of any dialogue would be to talk to the estranged youth of the state.
Ramachandran Nair, Muscat
‘When will we see the light of our land again’ is the refrain of Kashmiri Pandits who have become permanent refugees in their own land (Valley of no return). Jews who were systematically eliminated during the Holocaust, found a permanent home in Israel under the Belfour Declaration. Kashmiri Pandits are not so lucky. They are still groping for a permanent living place in their own land. Their banishment from the Kashmir Valley in 1989 is one of the worst tragedies India faced since Partition. Political pandits waxing eloquent on winning the hearts and minds of people in Kashmir, couldn’t care less. And successive governments have done nothing for a dignified return of Pandits to their original homes in the Valley. It is lamentable that India’s rule of law and the secular Constitution has failed to rehabilitate this hapless Hindu community in the past 28 years!
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This refers to A Sheet To Excel In (July 16). The actual picture convincingly establishes that Bengal has always been run on a cadre-based mindset. The CPM ruled the state for 35 years with well-entrenched cadre with no “mai ka lal” to disturb it. Thus a dominating pattern was set up when people got the mindset to align with it, at least for the security of life and limb. Now, TMC has strengthened it with minority appeasement, so much so that it has turned to blatant misuse of political power. Hence, the Supreme Court had to intervene in the panchayat elections. This has given the opportunity for the BJP to get into the thick of things in Bengal, something that was unthinkable in the past.
H.C. Pandey, On E-Mail
Let’s also talk to Pakistan about Kashmir, since it has a part of it that we don’t show in our map.
Anil S., Pune
The blessed Kashmir valley has been turned into a cancerous canker spreading undauntedly between India and Pakistan and must be solved for a safe and secure future of more than 1.5 billion people of the two countries. So, your initiative is commendable. But, this is one of the longest surviving disputes of the modern world and this bloody Himalayan battleground needs an out-of-the-box solution.
I would offer the following solution: Both the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir should be merged into one and made an independent country. Citizens of India and Pakistan will have the right to visit, work and live there without a visa or permit, very much like it happens in the EU. But they will not be allowed to buy land and settle down. Both India and Pakistan must take the guarantee of its defence and this independent country of Kashmir will have no army of its own. People from the rest of the world would go to this real paradise on earth and tourists, consultants and NGO workers who would get visa on arrival.
The remaining Jammu and Ladakh regions of the present-day J&K can become two small, separate states. I know this is wishful thinking. But, a wish is greater than a grudge that has become perpetual between the two neighbours. And, just think of the money both the underdeveloped and rather poor countries can save that they can use to meet basic health, education and livelihood needs of their hapless children instead of spending all that money on defence.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun