The biggest criticism that Narendra Modi and his government had to face in his first term was about the deteriorating situation in Kashmir. Kashmir was a constant thorn in the flesh for the ruling government specially given the tendency of the ‘unbiased’ media to give undue importance to that 10% area of the state which is affected by terrorism while talking about the entire state.
The entire ‘Left Liberal’ gang and the opposition was baying for Narendra Modi’s blood for his policies in Kashmir which first they termed as ‘No-policy’ and then as ‘Muscular policy’. Though Narendra Modi Govt. was able to curb the terror attacks in Indian mainland, the attacks in Kashmir shot up through the roof, mostly due to the pressure put by the armed forces through their operation ‘All Out’.
The tie-up with PDP to form the govt. did not help BJP’s cause either. Though there were varied explanations given by the people in the know-how of things ranging from necessity to understand the governance and politics of J&K from inside to Narendra Modi trying to project a soft-Muslim approach to sheer lust for power; the PM himself termed it as BJP’s ‘MahaMilavat’. The policies of Mahbooba Mufti and PDP ensured that the valley remains on the boil with ample obstacles to be put in Security forces’ operations. She even tried to destabilize the peaceful Jammu region through dubious means such as the mishandling of Kathua Rape case and settlement of illegal Rohingyas in and around Jammu region.
Though the government at Delhi maintained ‘Zero tolerance’ to terrorism and ‘free hand’ to armed forces while fighting terrorism; some of their decisions, for whatever reasons, were not matching with the words. Whether it was the decision of unilateral ceasefire during the holy month of “Ramazan” or taking back cases against thousands of stone pelters; the govt chose to ignore the apprehensions of the security forces.
On the other hand, the number of terrorists to be neutralized kept on increasing year by year. No other period saw the elimination of top leadership of various terror groups as the period between 2014-19. Though the killing of Burhan Wani and its subsequent handling and reportage created a lot of distrust between the people of Kashmir and Delhi; the govt refused to bow down to the pressure being created by the ‘peaceniks’ and continued its ‘zero tolerance to terror’ policy in Kashmir.
The policy started showing results when Baramullah was declared as terror free in early 2019. Many of the experts say that the terror problem has now been confined to just two and a half district and is taking its last breath even in those areas. However, to see the success of this new Kashmir policy just from the prism of terrorism would be repeating the mistakes of Lutyens’ media.
The true success of the Kashmir policy can be seen in last one year since BJP took back its support from the J&K govt and the state came under Governor’s rule. Since then so many historic and first-of-its-kind things have happened in the state that even one of them would have been unimaginable till a few years back.
The central govt and EC were able to successfully conduct Panchayat and local bodies elections without even a single terror incident. This is historic as the local bodies elections are a rarity in the state and when they used to happen, a lot of blood used to get spilled. Just to convey the importance of this, local bodies elections have been conducted only thrice in last 4 decades in Jammu and Kashmir state.
JKLF, Jamaat-e-Islami, Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen and many other organizations were banned which were fueling terrorism in the state either directly or indirectly. This was not a small decision to make as some of these organizations have deep roots within the Muslim clergy and madrassas of the state and had immense political backing from the local political parties and their leadership.
A big crackdown happened on Hurriyat and other separatist organizations and their leaders including some of the big names like Syed Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Asiya Andrabi and many others. Most of them were put in custody with multiple cases slapped against them for abetting and sponsoring terror. But more significant than that was the fact that there was not a single protest or rally in their support in the valley! No wonder, with BJP coming back to power with even a bigger majority, these people have agreed for talks for the first time in decades.
With Narendra Modi policy getting a big thumbs up from the Indian public, Amit Shah getting appointed as the new Home Minister of India, BJP raising expectations about the removal of Article 370 and 35A, and the recent developments in last few weeks since coming back to power – delimitation of the state being discussed, reservations bill being extended to the state, no protest or bandh for the first time in the valley on the visit of the Home Minister of the country, extension of President’s rule – it seems a new dawn is on the horizon for Jammu & Kashmir and its citizens.