IT was with a sense of déjà vu that one heard the new slogan coined by Narendra Modi to delineate the future policy on Kashmir. One could have dismissed the slogan as an obiter dictum freshly minted on the spur of the moment. But the significance of a statement made from the ramparts of the Red Fort cannot be taken lightly. Modi said that we should treat the Kashmiri separatists in accordance with the rhyme: “Na gaali se, na goli se, balki gale se lagake (neither with abuse, nor with the bullet, rather embrace them in your arms).”
The sense of deja vu came from the memory of a similar rhyme sung by another BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He promised to treat the separatists: “Na jamhooriyat se, na Kashmiriyat se, balki treat karenge insaniyat se (They shall not be treated on a political basis, nor on the basis of secularism. They would be treated on a humanitarian basis)”. It is another matter that Kargil happened soon thereafter and the Vajpayee thesis could not be put to test.
The surprise element in Modi’s Red Fort declaration is its extraordinary emphasis on a pacific approach, when all the developments during the past six months seem to indicate an increasingly bellicose approach, whether it is hot pursuit or surgical strike. The general direction to the security agencies to impose an intolerable burden on the Pak agencies involved in terrorist activities does also not jell with the pacific tenor of the Red Fort rhyme.
There are other indications of a warlike disposition in the Modi regime. After a long time of appeasement, the Govt. has subjected the separatists to a thorough probe by the National Investigation Agency and arrested them for their anti-national activities. There is enough evidence of their seditious activities being financed through black money, hawala money, fake money and forged currency notes. The various steps taken by the regime include demonetisation, total freeze on financial assistance sent by Paki agencies attempting to destabilize India and various bodies trying to promote Wahabi Islam.
THE combined impact of all these steps is a step down in the stone pelting and school-burning incidents. Now according to informed sources, the latest strategy is that each terrorist has been targeted by name as being the responsibility of a particular security agency. The idea seems to be to exterminate all the terrorists, whether imported or indigenous, so that no one is left in the valley.
On the diplomatic front also, the Indian side seems to be scoring minor victories. The recent suo motu statement by Donald Trump is an instance inpoint. For the first time since the cold war days, the US has recognised Pakistan as the fountainhead of terrorism and threatened to shut off the millions of dollars that they dole out every year asaid to Pakistan. Even China which is a bosom-friendof Pakistan has changed its stance in the recent BRICS summit.
Is this a result of Modi’s skilful deployment of human resources in the MEA? Those soft in the brain get Gen VK Singh. Those who are hurt get a soft hug from Sushma Swaraj. And those who wish to base the entire Indo-Pak relationship on the narrow base ofIslamic hegemony have to tackle MJ Akbar.
Be that as it my, the key to the latest slogan on Kashmir could lie in the application of different strategies to different segments of the population in Kashmir. The lathi could appropriately be aimed at the separatists who do not practise terrorism. The goli could be beamed at the terrorists. And the joyful embrace could be the befitting response to the general mass of the population.
There are many who aver that Modi has no policies. He can only manufacture slogans. And slogans cannot be a substitute for policy. As the present example shows, slogans can provide a calibrated response to complex situations.