By Syed Ali Mujtaba
New Delhi/Chennai: Ms. Anuradha Basin, executive editor of Kashmir Times based in Jammu says; ‘the situation in Jammu & Kashmir has not improved at all since August 5, 2019, and it would be an understatement to call it bad. The right description could be that ground zero is sitting on the volcano on which a lid is placed by the shadow of the gun, which may explode the moment the bayonet is removed.
Ms. Basin was speaking at a webinar organized by the Centre for Peace and Economic prosperity in South Asia and the topic was; ‘Jammu & Kashmir after August 5, 2019 – Voices from Ground Zero.’ The other speaker at the webinar was Mr. Firdos Baba, a social activist based in Srinagar. The webinar was held via Zoom meeting on October 31st.
Mr. Firdos Baba had a litany of vows; ‘The alienation among the people is at the breaking point, human rights remains a major concern, civil rights has lost its relevance, there is no end to militancy, the gulf between the rulers and the ruled has widened, the common people have no access to the administrators who are not the native of the land.’
Answering the question about economic investment to be made in Jammu and Kashmir, Ms. Anuradha Basin was of the opinion investment is possible only when there is peace, and asked who will invest in a place where peace is nowhere on the horizon? Ms. Basin also held the view that the investment from the central government is mooted in the mining sector that has huge consequences on the ecological system of the region.
This point was further elaborated by Mr. Firdos Baba who said; ‘the glaciers here are melting fast, the region has lost 23% of the area in the last six decades. The glaciers in the Pir Panjal range are melting at more than one meter per year and the situation is no better for the Kolahoi glacier, the main source of water for the river Jhelum. ‘Kashmir valley may face major water scarcity in coming years due to the melting of the glaciers,’ Baba said and added that ‘it will have a huge impact on agricultural productivity.’
The speaker from the valley appealed to the Indian leadership to raise the issue of the melting of the glacier in Kashmir at the current climate talks being held at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. To the question of whether the climate issue is an internal matter of the country or is a global issue, the speaker left this decision to the wisdom of the global watchdog.
Both the speakers were unanimous that a big silence is prevailing on ground zero due to the shadow of the gun. The peace is choreographed here, they said. ‘All the foreign diplomats who are brought to assess the situation on the ground are handpicked people and they are made to speak to only elective persons who are tutored before.’
Commenting on the media, Ms. Anuradha Basin took pity on them for writing reports with help of government handouts and is outlawed to speak to the people and know their opinion on what has changed on the ground.
To the question on terrorism, Mr. Firdos Baba was of the view, this is not at all under control, and statistics after August 5, 2019, very well reveal the real truth. To a question that New Delhi has adopted a carrot and stick policy and this has changed to stick policy since August 5, 2019, and whether this will yield result, Mr. Firdos Baba was of the view that such policy is not for the welfare of the J&K but for ensuring vote banks elsewhere.
The Centre for Peace and Economic prosperity in South Asia is a non-political, non-profit organization, an independent platform for academic stimulation. The center is run online by its honorary President Dr. Syed Ali Mujtaba based in Chennai and Secretary Dr. Rahul Kumar based in New Delhi. The center does not endorse nor oppose the views of the speakers.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com