Much is being made out of BJP president Amit Shah's induction into the Modi cabinet as the Union Home Minister. Shah, a close confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has a no non-sense, strong-man image, which he wields powerfully.
As such, his elevation to the top cabinet post, although not surprising, is pushing many politicians in Kashmir to believe that weight of executive responsibility, and the confidence he enjoys from Modi, will nudge Shah into an unlikely peacemaker in the Valley.
“Whenever there is a new person on any important post it raises hope and expectations,” Tanvir Sadiq, political advisor to NC vice-president Omar Abdullah, said. He said the situation presently in Kashmir is worrisome but his party has hope that Shah would be able to change it.
“I hope the Prime Minister and the Home Minister are able to take the state out of this intractable quagmire where death & destruction is the order of the day- we all have pinned hopes,” Sadiq added.
IAS-officer-turned politician, Shah Faesal said that BJP Government in the Centre is a reality that everyone should acknowledge. “But then members of the new Cabinet are expected to uphold certain institutional values. The system takes care of best and worst of the people when responsibilities are given”.
Therefore, he said, he suggests that it is better to avoid pre-judging Amit Shah's performance as a Home Minister. “Time will tell. We have to invest our hope in the institutional values not in the fear and scare created around certain individuals,” Faesal added.
Engineer Rasheed, former MLA of J&K Assembly, who is known for his controversial views, said, Shah would be in a better position to understand the “suffering of innocent people of Kashmir.” Shah, Rasheed said, has risen from grass root level and has an understanding of Kashmir. “I think he would work to end sufferings of Kashmiris”.
PDP youth leader Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra said that legacy of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee should be revived and there is hope that with huge mandate now the BJP government would follow Vajpayee’s footprints on Kashmir.
“When Mufti Mohammad Sayeed made an alliance with the BJP, he knew what he was doing. He understood more than anyone else that this politics is going to stay in the country and he negotiated with it,” Parra said.
He said the BJP should take initiative on Kashmir, given the credibility they have among the masses across the country. “Since people have given the party a massive mandate in the interest of India and nationalisms and ending insecurity among people of India, I think it is high a time that political initiative by the prime minister is taken to end the long-standing chaos in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Parra added.
He said a "long-standing genuine reach out" from the Prime Minister’s level to the people of the state is still awaited.
Separatist political parties believe that if the government releases political prisoners on the Eid eve, it would be a welcome step for a new beginning. Addressing people at Jamia Mosque Srinagar, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the release of the political prisoners followed by other Confidence Building Measures would help in kick-starting a process of permanent solution of Kashmir issue. He said people of India and Pakistan have given a strong mandate to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister Imran Khan respectively. Now they should come forward to resolve the Kashmir issue and start a new era of change in the region, said the Mirwaiz.
In January 2004, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq led the team of the Hurriyat executive for dialogue with the then Home Minister L K Advani, who was also considered strongman. On January 22, 2004, after a two-and-a-half-hour meeting between Advani and the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat delegation, the joint statement had said the parties had agreed to find an "honourable and durable solution" to the Kashmir problem through dialogue, hoping that all forms of violence at all levels would end. After this, two more rounds of talks were held between Hurriyat and the government of India.
Even BJP leaders in the Valley say Shah would bring peace and development in the Kashmir region. “Under his leadership, the BJP got a huge mandate in the country. He being a home minister would bring positive change in Jammu and Kashmir,” the BJP leader Hina Bhat said. She said being very close to the Prime Minister, his vision for Jammu and Kashmir would be “peace and development.”