By Mudassir Kuloo
Srinagar, May 27: Government of India’s “hard stance” did not yield results in Kashmir, prompting the Narendra Modi-led government to adopt a “soft approach” for restoring peace in the valley, experts believe.
Marking a shift from their tough stance, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on Saturday said, “If Hurriyat leadership is ready to come to the table for talks, the government is ready for it.”
He also said that New Delhi is ready to hold talks with Pakistan if it comes forward.
This is for the first time when the NDA government made any such remarks, and it has come when New Delhi has enforced a ceasefire in the valley.
On his recent visit to Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also stated that the Kashmir problem could not be resolved through “bullets or abuses (gooli ya gaali)”.
Experts see the developments as a shift in the government’s Kashmir policy.
Former Air Vice-Marshal, Kapil Kak said that calling for ceasefire in Ramadan was a major confidence building measure.
“There is some realisation that situation is going out of control and more youth are joining the militancy. Now, the centre has realised that they have to apply some balm on the wounds and shift from its hard approach,” Kak, who is part of a civil society group that has been advocating dialogue, said.
“It has been realised that muscular hard policy is a brainless policy. The ceasefire has brought the violence down. Dialogue is good for India, Pakistan and for Kashmiris.”
Kak hoped that some “positive reactions” come from the resistance leadership to this “defining CBM of government of India”.
Political expert, Professor Rekha Chowdhary said there has been a shift in the government’s policy in the recent past.
“The Prime Minister has said that Kashmiris need hugs. Releasing stone-throwers and then this ceasefire clearly indicate change in the centre’s approach towards Kashmir,” she said.
She said that there had been a “consistent approach” of the centre not to hold talks with the Hurriyat in the past.
“Now there seems a change in that hard stance. It is time for everyone to engage in talks, as a year is still left to the general elections in India.”
Professor Gul Mohammad Wani, also apolitical expert, said there were indications that ceasefire may be stretched beyond Ramadan.
“Some insights coming from New Delhi, Srinagar, and Islamabad suggest that atmosphere may change for the better,” Wani said.
“We also find that Hurriyat is giving certain indications for talks. Even the DGP has said that they were willing to consider Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s suggestions.”
He said that hard approach either leads to war or brings the situation under control.
“However, the government of India’s muscular approach did not work. The violence has, in fact, spread to Jammu, which is not good for the Indian state.”
Pravin Sawhney, Editor of FORCE magazine, however, stated that any change in the policy would become clear when New Delhi talks to Pakistan.
“Home Minister statement that centre was ready for talks with Hurriyat won’t make any difference. The Hurriyat is not ready for talks within the ambit of Indian constitution. The centre has no other option rather than to hold talks with Pakistan,” he said, adding that the ceasefire could be “a small measure”.
“In the last four years, a lot of people lost their lives in both India and Pakistan. New Delhi has to hold talks with Pakistan,” he said.