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Earn Kashmiris’ trust before switching gears

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For three decades now, the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has festered like a cancer on the Indian body politic. Every elected government has tried to resolve the so-called “Kashmir Issue”, but in the end has fallen back to hand-wringing.

Meanwhile, violence has ebbed and flowed, international attention has waxed and waned according to the geopolitical compulsion of the day and mainstream Kashmiri politicians in the name of holding the fort on New Delhi's behalf have made hay.

This comfortable paradigm has over time taken on the appearance of being unshakable. Yet, first impressions of the new government at the Centre suggest that major changes are afoot which are certain to challenge if not unravel the Kashmir knot.

The key man to watch this time will be the Prime Minister's political right hand man and confidant, Amit Shah, who has been appointed Union Home Minister with the tacit mandate of “fixing” the Kashmir problem. Kashmir will be his top priority as is evident from the first briefings he sought from the country's security and intelligence apparatus.

His appointment also suggests that New Delhi's police approach will be replaced by a political one. For 30 years now successive governments in New Delhi have approached the Kashmir issue as a policing problem. The emphasis has been on restoring law and order, normalcy and so on.

The country's security and intelligence agencies have played a forward role in the matter. It is not a coincidence that all Jammu & Kashmir governors appointed during the past 30 years have either come from the intelligence community, the........

© Deccan Chronicle