Kashmir, from being the “Heaven on Earth” is close to becoming the “Hell on Earth”. Except for the occasional foreign tourists or the courageous film makers and the odd politician, no body is really keen on stepping a foot in Kashmir. Thanks to the treatment from the government, the media and more importantly the radical groups and the religious fanatics.
The people of Kashmir have lost faith in the local and central administration. When an 8 year old dies in a protest, no matter who is guilty or how inexplicable the circumstances were, it just crushes whatever little hope or faith. In fact it infuriates the people so much that they resort to violent protests and angry retaliations.
This phenomena is exactly what the radical elements are waiting for. So without having to do anything , their mission to separate the people from the government is getting accomplished. They can work efficiently in total anarchy.
Kashmir has been in dispute ever since it’s inception and so a resolution to it’s problems is still a distant dream. But to even attempt to take baby steps towards a resolution is impractical when the valley is struggling to maintain law and order , and struggling to protect it’s people. It’s simply is inconceivable. For any sort of efforts to even stand a chance , the people’s trust , confidence and hope in the local administration has to be restored, because a resolution cannot be sought after unless the people are part of the process.
So the big question , how to win the trust of the people ? Unfortunately there is no way easy way out nor there is any workable solution, the local authorities have to take up a series of initiatives to initiate this.
1) Law and order :
The people must be allowed to protest.
The law enforcement must be better trained and better equipped to control the mob, especially when it turns angry. Under no circumstances should they resort to gun firing. They should instead use tear gas, water cannons, loud speaker announcements, engage with the people leading the protests.
The law enforcement should take necessary measures to protect and prevent any casualties. They could wear helmets, bullet proof vests, glass shields etc.
2) Screening localities for security reasons:
After 9/11 , airport screening and searching had become a norm worldwide and everybody adheres to this policy. Again the reason for this, everybody understood the risk involved and more than willing to spend an extra hour adjusting to the new travel restrictions . A similar kind of PR effort has to be lead in the valley and make people understand why this is important. If this is not done and the people are harassed for not carrying their ID’s when stopped for identification’s , then this can very well work instigate the people against the law enforcement and the local authorities.
3) Engage with people:
More meaningful dialogs must take place with the local government and all the stake holders of the valley. A resolution cannot be attempted without engaging the people who will be the end beneficiaries.
4) Engage the media:
Let the people of Kashmir be heard through the media. The more they become part of the main stream, the easier it will be to realign their trust.
The above is not guaranteed to be a panacea for all the problems but will at least get things moving in the right direction and help in restoring the trust and hope. It’s high time the government looks beyond the conflicts in Kashmir and works on doing something for the people.