Reaching out to the Valley :- Editorial 23 July


Two weeks after protests in the Kashmir Valley caught the authorities by surprise, a semblance (दिखावा) of calm has been restored. It is a tenuous one, built on extended curfews, and it has come at a huge price. Even as the government faces difficult questions about the blunt tactics (युक्ति) employed to disperse (फैलाना) crowds of stone-pelters across Kashmir, there is an evident effort at political outreach.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh sought an all-party meeting to address the problem. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti chaired another such meeting in Srinagar that asked Delhi to engage in a larger political dialogue with all stakeholders, “including separatists”. These are important, necessary steps.

But given the record of outreach in the Valley, the Centre needs to get its framework for a political conversation right. If the proposal to include stakeholders in a larger process is to be credible, the idiom must be genuine. Regrettably, far too much of the vocabulary on Jammu and Kashmir is platitude and hollow cliche.

The challenge before the government is to demonstrate that it is not reaching out as an automatic response learnt from some worn-out troubleshooting manual — but to show it has acknowledged the outrage (जुल्म), weariness, and distress in the Valley. That it cares enough to be open to being nudged out of its certitudes (यकीन).

Former Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s suggestion this week that India assure the people of Kashmir that it is conscious of the spirit of the grand bargain promised at accession (परिग्रहण) almost 70 years ago has invited a rebuttal (खंडन) from a senior BJP Minister at the Centre. Even the Congress party has reacted cautiously to the wide-ranging interview to India Today TV in which he emphasised the importance of carrying Kashmiris along.

But if national politics means to respond to the cries of agony (व्यथा) from the Valley this month, it must adopt Mr. Chidambaram’s touchstone (कसौटी) — that the issue in the Valley is not about land but about people. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had forged a way forward by seeking talks within the framework of “humanity”, thereby sidestepping the issue of allegiance (निष्ठा) to the Constitution.

The gains of that breakthrough have long since been dissipated.(नष्ट करना) Mr. Chidambaram’s appeal that India accept an “asymmetric devolution of powers” for J&K, which it has recommended for the Tamil provinces in Sri Lanka, is one such idea that could open a route forward. It should not be reflexively dismissed.


1)Semblance(noun)– aura, appearance

★ Synonyms: affinity, air, alikeness, analogy
2) Tactics (noun) –strategy
★Synonyms: approach, campaign, channels
3) Disperse (verb) –distribute; scatter
★Synonyms: banish, besprinkle, break up
4)Outrage (noun) –atrocity, evil
★Synonyms: abuse, affront, barbarism, damage
5) Certitude (noun) –sureness
★Synonyms: assurance, assuredness, belief
6) Accession (noun) – something that augments, adds to
★Synonyms: accretion, addition, augmentation
7) Rebuttal (noun) –counterstatement
★Synonyms: answer, confutation
8) Agony (noun) – suffering, pain
★Synonyms: affliction, anguish, distress, dolor
★Antonyms: comfort, happiness, health, peace, success
9) Touchstone (noun) –guide
★Synonyms: barometer, basanite, benchmark
10) Allegiance (noun ) –loyalty
★Synonyms: adherence, ardor, consecration
★Antonyms: disloyalty, enmity, sedition, treachery, treason
11) Dissipate (verb)–expend, spend
★Synonyms: be wasteful with, blow*, burn up
★Antonyms: accumulate, collect, gather, hoard, save



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