Anxiety about the ongoing Kashmir unrest found reflection for the first time in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monthly radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat as he invoked ekta (unity) and mamta (love) as the two buzzwords needed to address the stalemate. After a meeting with the Opposition parties of Jammu and Kashmir last week, Modi had reviewed the Kashmir unrest in detail with chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday.
In his 23rd uninterrupted edition of Mann Ki Baat on Sunday, Modi said: "From the interactions I had with all parties on Kashmir, one thing emerged and it can be put in simple words as ekta and mamta. These two things were the basic mantras." Interestingly, unlike in the past, the PM did not mention Pakistan even once in his 35-minute-long broadcast nor did he indirectly point at the neighbouring country for fomenting unrest.
On Saturday, the US state department had asked both India and Pakistan to refrain from indulging in rhetoric and instead work towards a dialogue process. In what looked like an effort to engage the Opposition parties to help solve the Kashmir imbroglio, Modi lauded their role for coming out in one voice on Kashmir.
"This gave a message to the world, as well as to the separatist elements and also reflected our emotions towards the citizens of Kashmir," said Modi. He sought to apply the healing touch by saying that all 125 crore countrymen, from the village head to the Prime Minister, have one belief: "any life lost in Kashmir, be it of a youth or of a security personnel, the loss is ours, of our own people and our country".
Giving a veiled warning to the separatists, the PM said: "People who are trying to create tension in Kashmir by roping in small children will have to give answers to these innocent boys someday."
PM's Mann Ki Baat on Kashmir, however, did not find any resonance among opposition parties. They sought to pick holes in his radio address, asking why the government has not been able to lift curfew in Kashmir, if only 5% of the population is involved in creating trouble.
Advising Modi to hear "mann ki baat of the Kashmiri people, rather than it be a one-way monologue", Congress leader Manish Tiwari said: "Why is there curfew for 51 days? Why is normal life paralysed? Why are Internet services disrupted?"
Picking on the BJP government, Tiwari said that the Prime Minister and home Minister Rajnath Singh do not understand the meaning of insaniyat (humanity), jamhooriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmiri spirit)'.
"The Prime Minister needs to first diagnose the problem because in every statement you see contradiction and U-turns. Therefore, the PM must realise the gravity of the problem that there are forces in Jammu and Kashmir who may be outside the electoral mainstream but they require an outreach if you need to bring the situation under control," said Tiwari.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the people of the country want lasting peace in Kashmir but the statements of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti like "peace will come from healing, re-initiating development process... that peace will come from bringing back those who have gone away from national mainstream," does not prove so.
Janata Dal (United) leader K C Tyagi said: "Every political party supports Modi, if any initiative is taken….but he has not done anything…to ensure peace in Kashmir."