*Representational image credit jagran

New Delhi, Feb 20: The Government’s reported move for a phased withdrawal of the Army from Jammu and Kashmir is not a day too soon.  It is three and a half years since the scrapping of Art 370 which gave special status to the union territory. 

Terrorist violence has come down substantially. The incidence of stone-throwing has virtually ended. The union home minister has stated many times in the recent past that terrorism is well under control, giving a hint of near normalcy in the valley. It is time that his statements are followed in action.

Let the J and K police and paramilitary forces like the CRPF  take over the law and order. This will bring the union territory at par with other states of the country. The long-standing tag of J and K being a garrison state must go. The Army’s role should be confined to the LoC which is entirely justified.

Given the history and its geographical location, J and K can never be completely normal as in other parts of the country. The situation as it exists today should be taken as the new normal.  Civil authorities must be well stacked up with security infrastructure and be allowed to administer the union territory with people’s welfare in mind. The logistics of immediate access to additional security personnel in times of need can always be ensured.

Elections to J and K assembly are on the cards. The delimitation commission has already finished its job. Now a case challenging its validity in the Supreme Court has also gone in favor of the Government. There are indications that the union territory may have elections by the end of this year. A semblance of normalcy must be restored before the polling is held. It will send the right signals to the international community, including Pakistan and China, the two nations which have raised objections to the removal of the special status of J and K.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s successful conclusion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar recently amid good participation of the people should further strengthen the Government’s hand in restoring normalcy in the union territory. Even in the best of times, unfurling the national flag in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk has been problematic. Rahul Gandhi has done it, thanks to the improved situation on the ground.

An additional but significant factor in restoring normalcy in the state is Pakistan’s hurtling economy resulting in turmoil within. Its defence minister Khwaja Asif publicly stated yesterday that Pakistan is going bankrupt and blamed what he called the establishment, the bureaucracy and the politicians for the mess. In other words, Pakistan is on its weakest wicket.

Like the Government showed its resolve in August 2019 while abrogating Art 370, it is time for another resolve to end military rule by default. The people of Kashmir need breathing space. It is their third generation since the partition brought in its wake instability and rebellion among large sections of society. The new generation of educated Kashmiris are realizing the futility of revolt at a time when the world is fast becoming a common workplace and India rising fast in all spheres to be a beacon of hope.

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