Is New Delhi working on Kashmir solution?
At least 64 people have been killed across Kashmir during anti-India demonstrations, one of the worst outbreaks of unrest since a separatist revolt against New Delhi broke out in 1989.
Frequent curfews, security lockdown and separatist strikes have kept the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley on the boil, shutting down much of the region for the past two and a half months.
New Delhi has been criticised for failing to respond to violence that has wounded hundreds, closed down schools and colleges also.
But now Kashmir’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, has hinted at a political solution of the crisis by New Delhi in the coming days.
“The Union government is actively working for a political solution,” Abdullah said and expressed hope that an “amicable and peaceful” settlement would not be too far off.
After several failed rounds of peace talks between separatists and the Centre in the past two decades, India will find it difficult bridging the “trust deficit” between New Delhi and Kashmir, a region seen as key to the stability of a broad zone ranging from India to Afghanistan.
Abdullah expressed hope that New Delhi will take positive steps in addressing the political issues of Kashmir in a sustained dialogue process avoiding the “re-occurrence of mistakes done in the past.”
“Kashmir issue has political genesis and it has originated with the independence of India and the birth of Pakistan. The over 60-year-old problem has become a complex one and requires sustained political efforts by all the stakeholders through a dialogue process to resolve it as per the aspirations of the people of the state,” Abdullah added.
Sentiment against New Delhi’s rule runs deep in the disputed Kashmir region, which is claimed both by India and Pakistan.
Kashmiri separatists want to carve out an independent homeland or merge with predominantly Muslim Pakistan.
But New Delhi sees Kashmir as an integral part of India, key to highlighting the secular nature of the Hindu-majority nation.
Is New Delhi ready for a political solution to end the decades-old dispute over Kashmir that may encourage further demands for independence from other states, especially in its northeast region near China?