Contesting the central government’s belief that everything is normal in Kashmir, former Union finance minister and Trinamool leader Yashwant Sinha says this notion “is completely wrong and far from the reality”.
The former BJP leader said that people in Kashmir still have a strong resentment in their minds against what the Modi government did on August 05, 2019.
“It is good to see that Kashmiris are not offering themselves to get killed on roads and they have resumed the normal activities (post-August 05, 2019), but that does not mean that everything is all right in the Valley, and the fundamental problem is resolved,” Sinha told ‘Kashmir Images’ in an exclusive interview.
He accused the central government of being “self-opinionated” about the Kashmir situation. “It (govt) thinks that it knows everything and does not need advice from anyone,” Sinha said.
He said that instead of removing the trust deficit in Kashmiris is further alienating them by its actions. “Sadly, we see the government of India doing nothing to remove the trust deficit; instead, it has only increased it,” he said.
Pertinently, Yashwant Sinha heads Concerned Citizens’ Group (CCG), a 5-member voluntary group that has been visiting Kashmir frequently to assess the ground situation here since 2016.
The CCG, besides Sinha, comprises Sushobha Barve of Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, Delhi; former Minorities Commission chairman and the first Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah; Air Vice Marshal (retd.) Kapil Kak, and journalist Bharat Bhushan. The group has released and presented as many as nine reports on the Kashmir situation so far.
The group was on a two-day visit to the Valley on July 05–07, and it released its ninth assessment report about Kashmir in New Delhi on July 20.
In its report, the CCG said that “the sense of normality in Kashmir is a myth.” The report elaborated: “… Centre’s virtual obliteration of the political mainstream, nullification of Article 370, abrogation of Article 35-A, bifurcation of the state and the enactment of the new domicile laws seemed to have increased the all-pervasive sense of fear, humiliation and hopelessness among the Kashmiri population.”
On a question about why the central government did not pay any head to any of CCG’s Kashmir reports and recommendations so far, Sinha said, “It is true that the government did not take any action on these reports, but that should not deter us from saying the truth about the Kashmir situation.”
He added, “We know about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir better than the government of India. And we are convinced that unless those recommendations are implemented, it will be very difficult for the government to win the trust of the people of Kashmir.”
On the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and its implications on India, Sinha said, “I don’t agree with those who say India has lost Afghanistan as a friend. No doubt that there is a new regime in Afghanistan, but its immediate statements are not that unwelcome.”
He urged the government for a fresh outreach in Kabul. “India needs to reach an understanding, whether an open or a confidential one, with the Taliban. The basic principle of should is about protecting the country’s interests.”
On the notion created by a section of national media, particularly the Hindi news channels, that Pakistan might use some Taliban militants against India in Kashmir, Sinha said, “I see no reason why Afghan Taliban should allow themselves to become pawns in the hands of Pakistan in Kashmir.”
On a question about India’s relations with Pakistan, Sinha responded “We have a special problem with Pakistan. We don’t have such a prolonged problem with any other neighbour.
“However, a successful revival of the ceasefire agreement between the two countries has given us hope. Both countries should behave maturely and talk to each other to resolve their differences peacefully.”