By Sushil Aaron
The Modi government’s hardline strategy in Kashmir is a straight lift from the approach suggested by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in 2010. Speaking about protests that year he told policymakers not to overreact and give in. He said the crisis will pass off, “It looks big in the midst of it, they cannot sustain it beyond a point and even if they do there is a price they have to pay.” As an assimilationist strategy it has certain astute aspects but it will eventually harm India and damage Kashmir irreparably.
Kashmir is bracing itself for another crackdown. The Narendra Modi government has made it clear that it wants to take back control of the streets from stone-pelting youth. A security official told business standard “Sooner or later, we will have to retake control in South Kashmir. The longer we wait, the more emboldened the protesters become, the more force will be required to deal with them”. What is bewildering analysts is the persistence of Delhi’s hardline strategy. More than 80 civilians have been shot dead, many blinded and over 10,000 reportedly injured.
There is no attempt to scale back the response of security forces. Indian governments have brutally put down unrest before such as in 2010 when 120 youth were killed – but this time Delhi’s reaction seems to be crafted for larger purposes.
To establish that this flows from a well-thought strategy one needs to see a candid 2010 lecture on Kashmir by India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and discern the continuity between the approach he commended then and Delhi’s policy now. The lecture, available on YouTube, offers a fascinating insight into how Doval and the Modi government view the Kashmir question.
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