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Watch: We must engage Kashmiri separatists; status quo doesn't help, says AS Dulat


Irrespective of what happens to the escalating tension between India and Pakistan, the situation in Kashmir remains turbulent. There is a growing recognition that it needs to be addressed separately from how India deals with Pakistan.

What began as a spontaneous protest after the death of a young self-styled militant leader, Burhan Wani, has quickly slipped into an agitation led by militants and their supporters. There was a time when the people of the valley defied the dictates of the All Party Hurriyat Conference. Now, even when the government has lifted the curfew in the valley, the Hurriyat decides whether and when life would be allowed to return to normality.

As many as 88 people have died and more than 10,000 injured in clashes with the security forces since July this year. There is no accurate figure of how many have been blinded by pellet guns and how many have lost their sight, but the estimates for both are in hundreds. It is no surprise that Kashmiris are seething with anger.

How has this situation come about? Some trace the immediate causes to the formation of the state government by two unnatural allies in 2014 - the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), which won the majority of the seats in the Kashmir valley, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won most of the seats in the Jammu region. People in the valley are upset at the subversion of their electoral mandate.

Others argue that the Kashmir issue was always on the simmer. What brought it to boil were different issues acting as a catalyst at different times -- the Amarnath land allotment issue in 2008, the alleged rape and murder of two Kashmiri women in Shopian in 2009, the Macchil fake encounter and the protests demanding demilitarisation that followed it in 2010, and the death of Burhan Wani in a police encounter in 2016.

In a conversation with Catch, AS Dulat, advisor on Kashmir in the Prime Minister's Office under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, gives us his views. Dulat is a Kashmir expert, having served in the state as an intelligence officer before becoming the chief of India's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Watch what he has to say about the Kashmir situation and where it is headed.

Bharat Bhushan @Bharatitis

Editor of Catch News, Bharat has been a hack for 25 years. He has been the founding Editor of Mail Today, Executive Editor of the Hindustan Times, Editor of The Telegraph in Delhi, Editor of the Express News Service, Washington Correspondent of the Indian Express and an Assistant Editor with The Times of India.