Dear Mr Prime Minister,
Your war against black-money has put the nation into endless queues outside banks and ATMs, but Kashmir continues to tell a different story. People in Kashmir have largely been confined indoors since July 8, when widespread violence erupted against the killing of militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
So at a time when people are standing in long lines across the country, killing time discussing the merits and demerits of demonetisation, banks and ATMs in Kashmir have failed to attract any unusual rush.
The exceptional calm outside financial institutions may be attributed to the ability of Kashmiri people to bear with unusual situations. Survival during longest-ever curfew of 52 days, followed by sustenance during the ongoing strike calls given by the separatists somehow proves that.
We are into fifth month of unrest, where normal life is paralyzed, except for a few hours of hustle-bustle in the markets in the evening hours or on weekends, as and when allowed by the “united” Hurriyat spearheading the agitation.
While the besieged, 7 million-odd population struggles for existence, an aura has been created that demonetization brought perceptible improvement.
In less than a week of the PM’s address to the nation, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar hailed the “daring” move. On November 15, Parrikar said: “Earlier, there were rates: Rs 500 for stone pelting (on security forces in Kashmir) and Rs 1,000 for doing something else. The PM has brought terror funding to zero. In the last few days after the PM’s daring move, there hasn’t been stone pelting on security forces. I congratulate PM for it.”
The same day, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar furthered this statement. He said the students of Kashmir have given a befitting reply to terrorists as 95 per cent of them appeared for their Class 12 board examination, which is in itself is a powerful “surgical strike”.
Many of my “fellow Kashmiris” like “Afzal Rahman” acknowledge such changes in their open letters to you.
The official records, however, narrate a different story. A police handout released on November 23 reported: “Toddler among three injured in stone pelting.”
In the Valley where at least 96 persons were killed in the ongoing unrest, over 15,000 reportedly wounded, 1,000 blinded, 10,000 arrested and another 5,000 are wanted, changing the look-and-feel of currency has been unable to bring a perceptible change.
Though board exams are being held in schools across the Valley, the government has offered 50 per cent discount on the syllabus. The students had otherwise sought postponement of exams as they were yet to complete even half of their syllabus. How will exams without schooling help these students? Will these help them in the comtetetive exams just after they complete schools?
On November 1, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had reiterated his demand asking JK government to make efforts to reopen schools in the Valley. Time and again, he has asked security forces to crack down on those instigating violence in the state, and restore peace.
But miracles are failing to happen. No magic wand has been delivered. No peace has been restored. Despite the Home Minister’s directive that schools must reopen and action must be taken, the situation hasn’t been changed.
For holistic peace and prosperity in India, political solution to Kashmir is awaited. Mr Prime Minister, you say you believe in the ideology of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”. We wish you luck for your mission and sincerely hope that you take the people of Kashmir on board too!