India’s strategic thinkers believe that apart from handling the cross-border instigation of terrorism in J&K by Pakistan, the issues of terrorism and emotional integration into India’s mainstream is by establishing an emotional connect with the people of Kashmir. This approach is based on the policy of promoting Insaniyat (Humanism), Jamhuriat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (culture of Kashmir).
These ideals guide the current government’s approach to further strengthen J&K integration into mainstream India, in-particular after the removal of Article 370.
Steps taken to win the hearts and minds of people of Kashmir are:
- Abrogation of Article 370 which formed the basis of a separatist Kashmiri identity and alienation and complete integration into India’s constitutional mainstream.
- Application of all laws of India such as Right to Information Act, Reservation for minorities and other groups to empower citizens of Kashmir.
- Introduction of Three-tier Panchayat system to enable public participation in self-governance at local levels.
- Economic empowerment:
- PM’s Development Package of 2015 as a mega development and reconstruction package of over Rs 80,000; New central sector scheme of around Rs 28,000 crores for industrial development of Kashmir. Infrastructure boost with construction of tunnels, highways and railways in Kashmir to boost economic development.
- Vibrant Village scheme to boost the development of border villages along with Pakistan.
- Application of all central sector schemes such as One Nation One Ration card, PM Kisan Yojana etc. to help people of Kashmir.
- Institutes and scholarships to Kashmiri students for civil services.
- Promotion of tourism in Kashmir valley to enable local livelihood.
- Emotional connect:
- Opening of cinema halls in Kashmir valley to let people lead a normal life.
- Carrying out Bharat Darshan/Watan Ko Jano tours for Kashmiri youth and activities by CAPF such as sports, cultural activities, medical camps, etc.
- Promotion and engagement with educated youth, civil society groups and political parties in Kashmir.
- Promotion of Sufi version of Kashmir.
- Frequent visits by union ministers and important functionaries.
- Hosting of G20 events in Kashmir.
To further bring peace in J&K government should follow a two-track strategy of boosting security preparedness with focus on preventing border incursions and addressing terrorists. However, long term the solution lies addressing the alienation among Kashmir’s population by making them feel safe and welcome in a secular India and further advancing the democratic process by holding elections in Kashmir.