Forum: Alienation will not resolve Kashmir issues

A roadblock set up by Kashmiri protesters in Srinagar, India, on Oct 29, 2019.
A roadblock set up by Kashmiri protesters in Srinagar, India, on Oct 29, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The Straits Times World Focus on Kashmir by Straits Times India bureau chief Nirmala Ganapathy (Life in Kashmir at a halt, Oct 22) highlights how severely even school has been disrupted by the lockdown imposed by the Indian government since Aug 5.

Ms Ganapathy also questions claims that "normalcy" would return soon to the valley. She wrote: "So far, Kashmiris have resisted a return to normal life due to security concerns and anger over the removal of their special status."

This special status is not unique to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Similar articles of the Constitution give it to a number of other Indian states.

The prolonged phone and Internet shutdown, severe restrictions on people's movements and the massive security force presence have also decimated the state's economy. Winter is around the corner, and for the poorer people, it will be a rough one.

As Ms Ganapathy points out, people there feel trapped between the militants and the security forces.

Yet the way forward is not to treat all Kashmir valley residents as potential separatists, but to work on their sense of alienation from India.

This needs to be done by following democratic processes, not by restricting most people to their homes, jailing their mainstream political leaders, and taking thousands away without due process.

I appreciate The Straits Times' efforts to disseminate real news and information.

Tara Dhar Hasnain