The spurt in terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir, coinciding with the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for launching development projects, comes as a reminder of the challenges in the way of restoring normalcy in the volatile region. Contrary to the claims of the NDA government, the spectre of terrorism continues to loom large over the region, as was visible on the day of the PM’s visit, with security forces gunning down three militants of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in an encounter in Pulwama district. The Kashmir valley continues to remain tense. The abrogation of Article 370, followed by the bifurcation of the state, has further added to the long list of resentment against New Delhi.
The PM’s visit – the first since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 – is being hailed as the beginning of a massive development push in the valley to empower the local people. But the truth is that only the assembly polls can ensure real empowerment, a much-awaited prospect in a region that has witnessed much bloodshed and suppression of freedom. While the Centre’s push for infrastructure and other development schemes, as evidenced by the inauguration of a string of projects worth Rs 20,000 crores during Modi’s visit, offers hope of employment for the youths, what the trouble-torn region awaits is political initiative – a genuine outreach – to heal the wounds of the past and bring back normalcy. Putting off the assembly elections any further will only strengthen the suspicion that the government has contempt for the will of the people and the democratic process in J&K. The central government will have to walk the talk and take initiative to restore the trust of the people of the valley.