ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kashmir: Local Self-Governance As the Key to a Solution

The massive public protests in Kashmir in recent weeks are a fallout of a deep-seated frustration of the people with the political system. The lack of local self-governance and autonomous, statutory institutions leads to a concentration of powers sans accountability at the top. This makes it difficult to address the different and varied demands of the people of a diverse state like Jammu and Kashmir. Political reforms are thus central to any solution to the cycle of violence.

In 2003, 73-year old Abdul Ahad approached the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Human Rights Commission to help him in his three-year frantic search for his two sons, missing from Kathmandu where they had gone for business. In September 2000, the Nepal police arrested his sons, leather merchants based in Nepal, in the wake of the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar. They were among 27 Kashmiris arrested there. Ten of them were released. According to Nepali newspapers, Ahad’s sons, Mushtaq Ahmad and Mohammed Shaffi, both in their early 20s, were handed over to the Indian security agencies. Since then, Ahad’s family had been looking for one clue that will tell them the whereabouts of these two young men.

Abdul Ahad could not elicit any response from the commission as it had no powers to investigate allegations against federal agencies. Ultimately, the father knocked on the doors of politicians, who too expressed their helplessness. The politicians added salt to his wounds by urging him to claim the ex gratia amount that is dispensed to the victims of militancy in the state. Mir refused to claim the amount, as this would have meant that he accepted that his sons were dead without knowing the exact circumstances of their death or even without the faintest idea of what happened to their dead bodies.

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