The Hindu Explains: From Meng Wanzhou to Mekedatu

What is the lowdown on Kashmir strategy?

What is it?

As Jammu and Kashmir comes under President’s rule on December 20, the State has witnessed interventions by government as well as non-governmental players with no clear picture emerging. Before and after the State came under Governor’s rule on June 20 this year, the strategy in the Kashmir Valley has mostly veered around the gun. Till December 2 this year, the State witnessed 587 terrorist-related incidents, the highest in the last six years. According to the Home Ministry, 238 militants and 86 security personnel were killed in various operations this year, again the highest in six years.

How did it come about?

The Assembly was dissolved on November 21 by Governor Satya Pal Malik amid allegations of horse-trading. Only in Jammu and Kashmir, President’s rule is imposed after six months of Governor’s rule. The proclamation has to be ratified by Parliament within two months. When the State is under Governor’s rule, the legislative power rests with the Governor and during President’s rule it is with Parliament. The State had faced another crisis when it was placed under Governor’s rule on June 20, after the BJP pulled out of an alliance with the People’s Democratic Party after the government said on June 17 that it would not continue the ‘suspension of operations’ or ‘cease-ops’ that was announced to provide relief to people in the month of Ramzan. In May, Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced that security operations would be suspended for a month to provide relief to the people during Ramzan. A month later, the government revoked the decision after the killing of Rising Kashmir Editor Shujaat Bukhari on June 14.

Why does it matter?

Last month, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s NGO Art of Living Foundation arranged a meeting of former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Mangne Bondevik with hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar. The meeting raised eyebrows as India has always opposed intervention by a third country and insisted that all violence in Kashmir is perpetrated by Pakistan. The meeting of the NGO members and the Norwegian delegation at Hyderpora, the fortified residence of Mr. Geelani, wouldn’t have been possible without the tacit support of the Centre. Special Representative Dineshwar Sharma, who was appointed last year to carry forward the dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir, was not part of the meeting. After the State came under Governor’s rule, 356 people, including security men, were injured during counter-terror operations and stone-throwing incidents in the Valley. In the same period, 136 militants were killed in operations by security forces. Around 250 militants are said to be active in the Valley, an official said. Last week, Mudasir Rashid Parray, 14, from Hajin in north Kashmir, once a militancy-free area, became the youngest militant of the Lashkar-e-Taiba to have been killed after an 18-hour encounter with security forces. The police have maintained that recruitment to militant groups was at a record low and some teenagers joining terrorist ranks was not a trend but “deviant behaviour.”

What lies ahead?

With winter setting in and the panchayat elections over, the State will now prepare for the Assembly election that is most likely to be held around the 2019 general election in March-April next year. The Supreme Court is expected to resume hearing the petition challenging Article 35A in January. The constitutional validity of Article 35A, which prohibits a non-J&K resident from buying property in the State and ensures job reservation for J&K residents and lets the legislature decide the permanent residents of the State, has been challenged through a PIL petition. The National Conference and the PDP, the two main parties, have cautioned against any tinkering with the law. The Home Ministry informed Parliament last year that there was no proposal for abolition of Articles 35A and 370, which give special status to the State.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 3:58:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/what-is-the-lowdown-on-kashmir-strategy/article25752958.ece

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