NEW DELHI: Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, a senior legislator of Jammu and Kashmir, has been a voice of sanity in troubled times in Kashmir. The sole representative of the CPI(M) in the Valley, he has won from the Kulgam constituency repeatedly in 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2014. He can by no stretch of the imagination be called a separatist being a mainstream politician who has taken firm positions on important issues in the past.
The enthusiastic Kashmir Lawmaker, Tarigami was deeply disturbed and worried this time. His usual optimism was missing and he insisted that it was absolutely imperative for the government of India to open dialogue with “all stakeholders” of the current crisis. Move fast, he said, is the biggest confidence building measure that the government can take today.
The situation is so much worse than he has ever seen it, said Tarigami in an interview, adding that it can “explode”. Excerpts:
Q.How do you see the present situation in Kashmir?
A. It is a very serious situation. The present unrest is much deeper and much wider than anything we have seen for decades. It is mass uprising, there is no village, no mohalla left now that is not involved in the protests today. Primarily the younger generation is in the front row, but the elders too are equally concerned, and involved. A large number of women are coming out and driving the protests.
But there is not a word from the governments, there is complete silence.There have been deaths and thousands injured, all hospitals in Kashmir are full of the injured, but not a word that can mean anything.
Apart from the hopelessness, the desperation, the accumulated anger of decades—what has the government of India done for Kashmir, relied on the excessive use of force, relied more and more on fraudulent exercises, disruptive initiatives; it has failed to understand the peoples desperation, recognise their concerns, and instead of dialogue and resolving the issue they have pushed the people to become defiant. They are getting killed, they are getting injured but there is no mood as of now to retreat to calm down. It is a very very sad state of affairs.
Q.So where is this going to take Kashmir, India?
A.The political leadership here in Delhi….Prime Minister speaks on all issues, he has sat silently through it all, not said a word in the House or outside even though Kashmir is burning. This attitude has been very disappointing and hardens positions in Kashmir, makes it all more difficult and closes windows.
No one denies that Pakistan interference has always been there, we have been talking to them, there has been confrontation, there has been dialogue but we have never moved forward. Instead of talking too much against each other, there is need for a serious dialogue. All these accusations by both does not help us in Kashmir.
And then the government here has to talk to all stakeholders in Kashmir. You have to talk. We must draw lessons for the good of the people of India, for the good of the people of Kashmir. We must not shut our eyes to emerging realities, as (former PM Atal Bihari) Vajpayee said, we should not follow beaten tracks…
Q. Who are the stakeholders?
A. Those who have stakes in the present situation, who have influence as well as all voices from the entire state, from the mainstream. It is not a religious issue. We have to sort out the issues for a common solution, acceptable to all. What kind of solution you want? There has to be serious initiation of a dialogue involving all of those who are not part of the mainstream.
Q. Do you think it is too late?
A. Yes it is too late but what other alternative is there? The biggest confidence building measure from the government of India will be to open its eyes and accept the reality, the ground situation. The ground situation is asking you to move fast, so move fast for the good of the people of the state, and for the interests of the country.
Move fast and talk to them, there is no alternative to this.There is no other option. Guns are not an option
Q.No signals that this might be happening..?
A.That is unfortunate. Some message of hope needs to be sent to the people, do not add to their hopelessness That will be detrimental to the interests of all, Kashmiris yes, they are suffering, they will continue to suffer
Q. The Opposition is also silent
A.We were waiting for the government to send an all party parliamentary delegation led by a senior Minister. But that is not happening so the CPI(M) is planning to send an all party delegation to Kashmir. We are late, but better late than never
Q.The state government has disappeared
A.The crisis we are confronted with today is far beyond what the state government can deal with or handle. It is too big for them.
Q.If the situation is not checked it can explode?
A.It will explode, certainly. Even if it slows down, there is some calm restored,it will only be temporary. When there was calm earlier we thought it was for ever. We were wrong. We must not make more mistakes, it will be far more traumatic, more serious and I am afraid we will find it very very difficult to face the situation.
(The Interview First Appeared in the Citizen)