The first Sunday of May 2018, witnessed ten coldblooded murders. A similar incident only a month before this one had claimed 20 lives. Even today a civilian is martyred daily due to the actions of the security forces. This present situation is in stark contrast to the Indian Army chief’s comments about Kashmir, which came to light after the increase in protests after the martyrdom of Hizb ul Mujahedeen Commander Burhan Muzafar Wani in South Kashmir’s Ananthnag district on July 8, 2016. This has frustrated New Delhi and they have responded by giving security forces in the region even greater powers, unbefitting a democratic nation. The media in the country has as usual worked itself into rage, and is rallying public opinion against Kashmiris. Many celebrities and public figures are supporting this, underlining once again just how normal it is to demonise Kashmir. It seems that they are merely taking revenge from Kashmiris raising their voices against the atrocities they face. However, New Delhi has not still realised that the onus is now entirely on them to initiate meaningful political dialogue with Pakistan and the Hurriyat leadership, in order to stabilise the situation. Kashmir now has a strong case to defend itself on the political front, as their struggle becomes ever more famous, and even though there are expected to be several obstacles in the way, they have the chance to bring about real change in the region. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh stated that, “Our permanent solution is based on five ‘C’s – compassion, communication, coexistence, confidence building and consistency. We will continue to strive for peace with honour and dignity of the people of Kashmir” The biggest issues facing this valley of flowers is that the local government is completely subservient to the centre, and does not pay any attention to the plight of the Kashmiri people. At the same time, the perpetrators of most of the violence that takes place in the region are allowed to roam around in broad daylight without any fear of reprisal from the state or the security forces, who are not only supporting these reprehensible people, but is giving them shelter as well. After the 2016 uprising, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh mentioned that New Delhi was formulating a new plan for a permanent solution for the problems in Kashmir. While he repeated this statement many times, no plan was forthcoming, till September 2017, when he stated that “Our permanent solution is based on five ‘C’s — compassion, communication, coexistence, confidence building and consistency. We will continue to strive for peace with honour and dignity of the people of Kashmir”. These kind of statements do not hold any merit when the Kashmiris have to suffer to all kinds of atrocities at the hand of the Indians, and when most of their leadership is in chains. While some leaders say that the “sky is limit” and some say “it is a unique problem and needs a unique solution”, these statements are small steps towards winning the Kashmiri people’s trust. However, it represents a significant departure from the Indian state’s rhetoric. In reality, twenty years of misinformation by the Indian Government and the New-Delhi based corporate media have ensured that this historic admission has little impact on mainstream discourse in the rest of the country. Most Indians have been kept in the dark about the condition of the Kashmiri people, and it was only recently that some media houses managed to travel to the region and document some of the atrocities taking place, as well as hear stories about previous brutalities from the citizens themselves. They were also surprised with the state’s reaction to these problems, who have been citing national interests or even ignoring the rising number of deaths as collateral damage. While these documentaries and films go a long way in highlighting the issues in Kashmir, social media has been another great tool for the people of the region to share their stories of death and suffering with the rest of the world. The present situation demands the country’s leadership to show political prudence. The government of India and Indian civil society must understand that it was India’s leadership that has taken the Kashmir issue to international forums, where it was decided that the people of Kashmir would be given a chance to choose their future. If the government of India is really concerned about resolving this conflict, they should let go of their ego, and give the people a chance for self-determination. It is the time for New Delhi to work with Pakistan, and the Hurriyat leadership, to bring about peace in the whole region, once and for all. The author is a freelance writer based in Srinagar India. He can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, July 14th 2018.