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Singh on Kashmir

The Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh during his visit to J&K took a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that he would talk to all involved in the crisis in the sensitive state. He promised compensation and better equipment to the local police and security forces. He also allayed fears caused by the suspected challenge to Article 35A and made it clear that youth below 18 years of age will not be treated as criminals. Instead of being put in prison, they will be sent to juvenile homes. The Home Minister shared with the State government its concern for responding to the expectations of the local population. Positions have hardened since the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in July 2016. Voter turnout in bye-elections in April this year was a meagre 7%. The Army chief General Bipin Rawat defended the use of civilians as human shields. Raids on separatist leaders by the National Investigation Agency over allegations of providing terror funds and arrests of some of them queered the pitch for a dialogue in J&K. There was also apprehension about the state BJP questioning the validity of Article 35A.

Rajnath Singh has promised to break the ice. The BJP- PDP alliance in the state has to be reinvigorated and all internal contradictions must be removed. Singh’s assurance of talking to all stakeholders brings non-violent political elements of the state in the ensuing dialogue. The promise that youth in the state will not be criminalised also generates hope. Singh’s statement that he will visit the Valley 50 times in a year shows sense and sensibility.   

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