Interaction with Dr. Sudhir S. Bloeria on Jammu & Kashmir
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The VIF hosted Dr. Sudhir S. Boleria, former Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir and Vice Chancellor Central University of Jammu and Kashmir for a round table discussion on the situation in J&K and the way forward on 22 December 2015.

Dr. Bloeria made an incisive presentation on the overall situation in J&K starting from the onset of insurgency in 1989. Dwelling at length on the important lessons learnt from one of the worst phases of insurgency in the state as well as the political process that began in 1996, Dr. Bloeria made a number of significant observations as well as recommendation necessary to take the peace momentum in J&K forward, especially in light of an improved ground situation in the state.While peace may have returned to the state, the seeds of discontent that gave rise to the insurgency remain very much present there. The processes of radicalization of Muslim youths in the Valley, relatively a new phenomenon, and the frequent display of support for the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) amongst a section of the local population are pointers to the nature of threat that lies ahead. While remaining wary of the fragile nature of peace in J&K, the discussants underlined the need to talk to Islamabad in order to bring about a lasting solution to the vexed border problem with Pakistan.

While there was a substantive discussion on Musharraf’s four point formula on Kashmir, the recently concluded NSA level talks between India and Pakistan also figured prominently during the discussion, with a section of the panel interpreting the prior appointment of Naseer Janjua, a former Army Commander, as Pakistan’s National Security Advisor as Pakistan Army backing the talks. Apparently, there were divergent views as regards the place of Jammu and Kashmir in the bilateral talks with Pakistan. While one section of the panel was of the view that resolving Kashmir tangle is the key to improving relations with Pakistan, there were others who said Pakistan’s problem with India, defined often as existential, extends far beyond Kashmir. Experts however converged on the view that Kashmir is an issue that needs urgent attention.

With the external dynamics on Kashmir discussed comprehensively as part of the interaction, Dr. Bloeria went on to suggest a broad range of political and administrative measures in so far as the internal handling of Kashmir is concerned - rail networks across the state and with the rest of India, four-lane highways, atomic power plants for the state of J&K, handpicking of efficient middle level bureaucrats for deputation in Kashmir, credible presence of the central agencies in the Valley, devolution of political power to the grassroots, the formation of district councils across the three regions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, facilitating Kashmiri traders to set up business centers in every state of India and encouraging the Kashmiri students to go for higher education in other parts of India, among others. While Article 370 and the issue of return of Pundits figured prominently during the discussion as part of the process of mainstreaming Kashmir, the most significant takeaway from the interaction was underlining the need to build a national consensus on Kashmir across the entire political spectrum in India.

Event Date 
December 22, 2015
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