Ayodhya & Kashmir
Communication revolution, ironically, cannot be de-linked from both the issues — Ayodhya and Kashmir — which have been of late in news for a considerable period of time. While both the issues still remain at a long distance far from being considered as resolved and/or having reached a dead-end, they demand attention from a similar angle. Give a thought, fear of nation-wide riotous scenes witnessed during the 1980s and 1990s over the Ayodhya-issue have been defied by peace and calm witnessed after the Allahabad High Court's verdict. Of course, all the parties are not fully satisfied and prospects of matter being taken to the apex court prevail. Nevertheless, with security and police forces out in full strength turning sensitive areas in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other parts into virtual fortresses, communal violence or conflict was not reported from any part of the country following the verdict.
Security and police personnel are known to be out in full strength in Kashmir also. If Indian services can maintain peace throughout the nation over Ayodhya-issue, what is responsible for their failure in Kashmir? If leaders in other parts of country can show restrain and appeal to the people to maintain peace over Ayodhya-issue, rather than incite them to take to streets, why have they failed in Kashmir? If people across the nation choose to prefer peace regarding Ayodhya, what has prompted them in recent months in Kashmir to take to streets and display their anger?
Despite Ayodhya-issue having led to tension and panic among people at all the levels, the fact that they were not provoked to revive communal frenzy and religious passions cannot be ignored. The verdict, thanks to people's reaction, prevented the tension, worded by some as "hype," from turning Ayodhya-issue into a crisis. In contrast, Kashmir and Kashmiris have been caught in what seems to an unending crisis for quite some time.
Clearly, so far as Ayodhya-issue is concerned, even if certain communal elements and their leaders had desired, in all probability, people would not have been misled by them. How can it be forgotten that Gujarat-carnage remained confined to Gujarat. There was a phase, when leading newspapers refrained from according full coverage to minor riots occurring in one/more parts of the country. There was the fear that "news" would spark riots in other parts of the country. Practically the entire nation witnessed the Gujarat-carnage on their television sets. But rather than being provoked to engaging in similar behavior, they remained glued to the small screen.
The Indians at large have to be duly credited as much as the security and police services for not allowing themselves to be rocked by nation-wide communal frenzy over the Ayodhya-issue. And this raises the crucial question, what really is missing in Kashmir, because of which the situation appears to have practically slipped out of control of the state government? Take another look at Ayodhya-issue, the people, leaders and the forces, including the police. They all seemed directed towards one goal, ensuring that violence was not provoked and peace 'n' calm prevailed. They succeeded. The situation has been somewhat different in Kashmir. Crisis has been provoked there at a time when it seemed the Kashmiris were heading for some political stability. More than 100 deaths of young and largely innocent people being fired at by state-controlled bullets in a few months gives the impression of people having turned hostile towards the forces (army & police) stationed there and the state government. Mishandling of the situation by forces and the government only gives the people the impression of their being alienated. After all, in most cases, unarmed people were targeted by state-controlled bullets, simply because they chose to protest against such killings and/or were shouting aggressive slogans while taking out funeral processions.
Till the common Kashmiris' feeling of being: discriminated against; kept outside the nation's development process; unnecessarily targeted by state-controlled bullets and so forth, is not paid adequate attention, how can they be won over? The Kashmiris have been given the impression that with the state services bent on targeting them, they have no option but to resort to protesting. To a degree, this feeling has been further aggravated by separatist leaders. But when elected representatives and police personnel give the impression of having turned against the people, the opportunity is bound to be exploited by separatists for their own benefits- gain media coverage and portray themselves as aggrieved Kashmiris' real leaders.
Undeniably, the reaction of Indians at large to the Ayodhya-verdict has also been a litmus test of whether the extremist elements can be kept in check to maintain peace and calm in what seemed a tense period, almost heading towards a crisis. The country has passed this test. The Kashmiris too can pass a similar test, which they have been facing for too long. It is for the government and those in charge of security to convince the Kashmiris that they are there to serve and help them and not kill or abuse them.