As Amit Shah becomes the new Home Minister of India, resolving the Kashmir issue remains his top priority and Kashmiri politicians seem to be gasping for ‘shah’ translating to ‘breath’ in the Kashmiri language. How will Amit Shah deal with Kashmir is to be seen, but local political parties are hoping for a change in policy from New Delhi.
Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Engineer Rasheed, while reacting to the formation of the new government said that it was time for New Delhi to change its hard line on Kashmir and take steps to ease the situation in the Kashmir Valley.
After the deadly Pulwama attack, New Delhi arrested most separatist leaders and the security forces conducted cordon and search operations, resulting in the killing of most of the active terrorists in South Kashmir.
A senior police officer said that the terrorists were on the run in South Kashmir and they had been able to dominate the area completely. He said that such operations would continue and there would be zero tolerance to violence in Kashmir.
Although media reports from New Delhi have suggested that there could be some breaking of ice between India and Pakistan, the people of Kashmir are waiting to see if things actually change on the ground. With tourism on a rapid decline, people of Kashmir have already suffered on the economic front.
As BJP has promised to abolish Article 370 and Article 35(A) in its election manifesto, the people of Kashmir are also worried that the party will go ahead with its plan now that it has got a massive majority. The BJP won 303 seats in the 542-member lower house of Parliament in the elections, giving it a decisive mandate and the ability to form a government without other parties.
Reports from Associated Press have indicated that Shah might be looking at Israel’s settlements in the West Bank as a model. “They want Hindus in the (Kashmir) Valley to dilute the majority status Muslims”
Such a move could lead to greater communal violence against Muslims nationwide, which Human Rights Watch documented was on the rise in Modi’s first term, and intensify an ongoing conflict in parts of Kashmir, where more civilians are joining an active resistance movement that sees nearly-daily deadly clashes between rebels and soldiers.