Though I do not have any knowledge of the ground realities in Jammu and Kashmir, I am writing this article. I have also not visited this state though the Dal lake and the Shikaras have enthused me. Thus, I am just being a drawing room commentator commenting based on the information that I have on this topic through sources like newspaper, television and internet.
Did we become independent on August 15th, 1947? Did democracy take its roots in India on 26th January 1950? How did you draw the map of India during your school days? (we always include PoK – Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in the map). There are also seats reserved for this area in the J&K legislature. I still do not understand what ‘Azaadi’ means till date and I was surprised to know from a recent headline in a newspaper that the mango people (Aam aadmi :)) in the Kashmir valley also do not understand the meaning of ‘Azaadi’. The article rightly said that this is the right opportunity for the Government of India to help people define ‘Azaadi’ within the purview of our Constitution and help them realize this ‘Azaadi’.
It thus turns out that this hue and cry of ‘Azaadi’ is because of some vested interests (siyasathi logon ka jang) rather than the common man’s struggle. What is the freedom that people are speaking about? J&K has been allowed to have its own constitution which came into effect on 26th January 1957. Many provisions that hold for the rest of the country do not hold for this state. What else is being asked. If it is secession from the Indian union, then that would not be possible in centuries to come. So, the people with vested interests should rather join the mainstream politics and help the development of the state. Of course, the demands like existence of a religious state within our secular country can never be fulfilled. The irony is that such demands are not required for the welfare of people.
Government of India spends a huge amount on this state. There is a also a separate department in the ministry of home affairs to deal with matters relating to this state. In spite of such a focus, the region is underdeveloped compared to the other Indian states. The youth of Jammu and Kashmir have to be encouraged to take up education instead of arms. This education will help them earn food and shelter for their family. The Indian Government should set up some special economic zones of certain sectors and provide them fool proof security. These sectors like the software/service industry hold a promise for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. The industries will have to be attracted through large incentives. Developing the Kashmir valley with around 4 million population should not be such a daunting task for our Government.