Modi’s statement, though late, is the salve the Kashmiris and the rest of the nation require.
More than a week after cases of attacks and intimidation against Kashmiris across the country were reported, prime minister Narendra Modi finally spoke up against such targetting. This followed the Supreme Court’s censure of the states where such incidents were reported. Speaking at a rally in Rajasthan, Modi said that what was happening to Kashmiris in the rest of India “should not happen in this country” and that India’s fight is for Kashmir, “not against Kashmiris”. The statement, though quite late in coming, was necessary to bring about an end to the violence against Kashmiris since the Pulwama attack, because, the deafening silence from the BJP’s top leadership on the attacks could only have been seen as a tacit sanction of the same.
Adding further fuel to the alienation from India many Kashmiris feel, several senior members of the BJP and the Modi administration—before the PM spoke out against the violence—either made statements in favour of the violence or dismissed it altogether. A few days after the Pulwama attack, Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy, a senior BJP leader, called for an economic boycott of Kashmir and Kashmiris. If Roy’s blatant violation of the Constitution, while occupying a Constitutional post, wasn’t enough, a day later, Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar flatly denied that Kashmiris had been harassed at all. What should not be tolerated is Roy-style brazen calls for harming fellow citizens which risks distancing Kashmir and its citizens further from the nation. Given Roy occupies a Constitutional post, the Modi regime would do well to match intent with action and recommend his removal to the President. Modi’s statement, though late, is the salve the Kashmiris and the rest of the nation require. It should set India on a path towards ending the violence and animosity that afflicts the country in matters relating to Kashmir, and that would be the true cure for the rabid hate that is drowning good sense.