Three years after the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir's special status separatists and the mainstream leaders, who used to claim that "Azadi sentiment" in Kashmir is "deep rooted" and it won't wane off come what may, stand exposed as the so-called "deep rooted" sentiment has vanished in thin air.
In 2022, no one in Kashmir is talking about Azadi, nor is anyone interested in theatrics being staged by the politicians, who ruled the Himalayan region for seven decades.
The separatists, who were on payroll of Pakistan, were loyal to their masters sitting across the Line of Control (LoC) as they did everything to appease their bosses. They orchestrated street protests, stone-pelting, called for shutdowns, indoctrinated youth, organised seminars and held rallies. It was a part of their job as they were paid for it. However, the politicians who were at the helm and used to get all the privileges provided by New Delhi wittingly or unwittingly facilitated the separatists by allowing them to carry on with their nefarious activities.
Pakistan took complete advantage of the chaos and confusion that prevailed in Kashmir and exploited the situation to fight its own war by turning the people of Kashmir into a cannon fodder.
PM Modi made things clear
When Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India in 2014, he sent a clear message to Pakistan that "terror and talks" can't go together, he made it clear to Pakistan stooges in Kashmir that they won't be allowed to run their shops, and told the traditional mainstream politicians upfront that they won't be allowed to play hide and seek for the sake of power.
From 2014 to 2019, Prime Minister Modi and his team weighed all the options vis-a-vis Kashmir. When PM Modi returned to power with an overwhelming majority in 2019, he handed over "Mission Kashmir" to his most trusted lieutenant, Union Home Minister, Amit Shah. Just within a few months after assuming the office, Shah presented the Bill in the Parliament on August 5, 2019, to scrap Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution, and merged J&K with the Union of India completely.
Centre's decision to scrap J&K's so-called special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories led to all confusions getting cleared once for all and punctured all the fake narratives like "Azadi sentiment being deep rooted" in Kashmir. The historic decision taken by the PM Modi led regime was endorsed by people of J&K silently as not a single protest was witnessed across the Union Territory. Forget Azadi, no one even took to the streets to protest against the revocation of Article 370 or demand the release of mainstream leaders like former J&K chief ministers, Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah or Mehbooba Mufti.
Last three years have proven beyond doubt that there was no such sentiment called "Azadi"; it was a myth created by a handful of separatists, who were put behind bars and shown their right place, and the mainstream leaders, who wanted to cling on to power by blackmailing New Delhi. Kashmir based politicians, who ruled J&K from 1996 to 2018, had created a notion that they were the only ones who could keep Kashmir with India and if any attempt was made to challenge their authority J&K would fall in the lap of Pakistan.
During their tenures they kept on talking about the Kashmir issue and its resolution. They wanted the Centre to hold talks with Pakistan and the militant leaders as they had created a notion that peace will never return to J&K till the neighbouring country and the terrorists sponsored by it are taken on board.
Bold decisions taken by the present dispensation led by PM Modi exposed the separatists and the mainstream leaders. It was proven beyond doubt that they kept the pot boiling for their own vested interests. They filled their coffers and lived comfortable lives for three decades by selling the conflict. Family members of the so-called leaders enjoyed their lives in foreign countries and their children studied in top-notch institutions across the globe, while the children of common man in Kashmir died in encounters and stone-pelting incidents.
The ones who ruled J&K in the past failed to come up with any plan for youngsters. They didn't focus on channelising the energies of the youth for positive activities. They kept the youngsters engaged in politics by telling them that they are the denizens of the land whose future was yet to be decided. The youth were not provided enough opportunities to shape up their careers and lives, nor did Kashmir witness much development which could have led to growth of the private sector.
After 2019 things changed
Till 2019, there was dearth of jobs and opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir but after the scrapping of Article 370 J&K has witnessed unprecedented development, youth have been provided with ample opportunities to choose their careers and showcase their talent in every field.
New schemes and avenues have opened up a new world for the common people in Jammu and Kashmir. All the centrally sponsored schemes are reaching the masses directly. New investments and business ventures have infused a new life into the private sector in the Himalayan region.
Ones who used to claim that people of Kashmir want "Azadi" have been left dumbfounded as a common man has grabbed all the opportunities that have been provided to him during the past three years. He has heaved a sigh of relief as the ones who used to cripple his life by calling for shutdowns and organising street protests have lost their addresses.
Azadi from separatists
A common man in Kashmir has got Azadi from separatists, unscrupulous elements and the politicians, who exploited him for seven long decades. Record tourists have visited J&K after 2019. The ailing tourism industry, which suffered due to the violence sponsored by Pakistan and their agents in the Valley, is on a revival path.
In Kashmir there was no such sentiment called "Azadi"; it was a fake narrative that was built by a handful of people to keep the denizens of J&K deprived of peace, progress and prosperity.
A common Kashmiri has rejected all the fake narratives and slogans. He has become a part of "New India" and has happily endorsed the decisions taken by the PM Modi led regime for his betterment. (AA/IANS)