Perception Management in Kashmir

The Change Is Visible. The Government Must Do More To Build Positive Narratives In The Valley

by WebDesk
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Perception Management in Kashmir

Some days ago a young team member recounted to me a conversation that he heard while come to Srinagar in a local Tavera from Anantnag. From the account that he gave to me, I observed the change among the commoners in Kashmir. Here is what my colleague told me.

The Common Man Knows The Truth

After crossing Kachkoot toll plaza, there was a red signal from a security-man guarding the national highway. For a few minutes traffic halted. Then discussion began in the cab.
A well suited man sitting on the front seat of the vehicle said, “Modi Government has made our lives worse. From one side, orders and directions are being issued everyday for biometric attendance, punctuality in office work and timely completion of office work. On the other side, there is halting of traffic on national highway. He (Modi) will not get peace till Kashmir completely destroys”.
From the back seat, suddenly a loud voice answered. I turned around to look the person whose voice had struck my ears. The person replied to the employee, “Yes of course, it is not good to halt the traffic again and again on the pretext of safe passage of security cavalcades. But at the same time is it good to draw salary every month without completing official assignments?” The man from back seat questioned. He added, “Is it good that employees should sit at home and sign attendance register once in a week and enjoy perks?”
The man sitting on the front uttered some words which were not audible and discontinued the conversation. But the latter kept on saying, “It is a good move which the Modi Government has initiated. If the past regimes had taken such good steps, we shouldn’t have been left behind. I personally appreciate LG Sahab for taking such concrete steps. The employees in the government offices had forgotten the discipline and manners while interacting or doing any kind of the work for common men. They (Government) employees were conceited about their positions. Only nepotism, corruption and favouritism had spread all over in the government offices. Following the hierarchy, from Class 4 peon to top level officer, everybody worked only for bribe. There is positive change thriving in government as well as in private offices of Kashmir.” This is how the man sitting at the back finally finished his comment.

Why Many Govt Employees Are Complaining

The perception that India is responsible for every wrongdoing in Kashmir is not new in Kashmir. It has been there from long time. This perception had been initiated by the separatists to favour Pakistan. As the radicalization and alienation has deep roots in Kashmir, it became easy for separatist elements to set a new anti-India narrative on every day basis.
These elements include some rogues in the Kashmiri Diaspora, who from long distances signalled the common Kashmiris about what is good or bad for them. These rogues in the Diaspora thought that they would decide the fate of Kashmir, though being far from here.
For instance, a large number of government employees would earlier go their offices only once to mark the monthly attendance, to pass time leisurely and then draw heavy salaries. For them, the new culture is very difficult. They find it highly cumbersome to attend the office daily, complete work and importantly, maintain discipline in the offices.
Those driving the separatist narrative present it as if the employees are being tortured and their dignity is being lowered. The government employees of Kashmir in any department keep up a single rant. They say that it is very tough to do a government job. One has to be careful about daily arrival and departure attendance, completion of work assignments, enriching performance and satisfying those who visit the offices.

Govt Employees Pained By Discipline In Work

This has become a fresh discourse among the government employees who spread such talk among the commoners. They claim that the present Government has made it impossible to do our daily job. They claim that this is a planned game of BJP and Narendra Modi. They claim that BJP is not happy with the development of Kashmir. They claim that Modi wants that one by one each employee should be sacked from government jobs and the posts should be allotted to Hindus of India.
These government employees have started the narrative that slowly, the Hindus will occupy the offices, markets, hotels and will dominate our Kashmir.
The fact is that these government employees are complaining so much only because they are forced to work now. Due to the lack of accountability in the government offices prior to 2021 , the government employees were satisfied. These government employees were not in the habit of attending office daily and were not answerable to anyone. So the insistence of discipline by the LG Administration is being seen as an “extreme step”. The new rules are being seen as calamity by those employees who were fond of drawing hefty salaries every month.
And the supreme irony is that these same government employees who complain so much leave no stone unturned so that their sons and daughters – even daughter in law and son in law – get employed with the government.

The Positive Changes That We See

With the annulment of article 370 and 35 A, the hate mongers continue to spread hate. The following is their talk. “Now entire Jammu and Kashmir will be a Hindu dominated region. There will be demographic change. Muslim is in danger. Islam is in danger.” All such talk is nothing but hate spreading. It is to be noted that this hate is directed towards India only.
But in the midst of all this hate talk, a pleasant change is visible. The corruption in Jammu and Kashmir has reduced. The citizens of Jammu and Kashmir do not have to pay huge amounts as bribe for their works in government offices.
The Anti Corruption Bureau has caught many government employees red handed while receiving bribe. Many of the employees who were caught were either terminated form their services or suspended, and judicial probe initiated against them. It is seen that the common people of Jammu and Kashmir are coming forward to uproot and eradicate the corruption menace. The people voluntarily work with Anti Corruption Bureau lay traps to catch the corrupt.

No Street Violence, No Clashes Now

Post the events of August 5, 2019, the cases of disruption of law and order have dropped to zero. There are no violent street clashes, no protests. Hence no innocents are killed or injured. The youth do not indulge in violence or agitations now.
It is only the terrorists who are disrupting the law and order situation by targeted killings of the innocent people. The terrorists killed non local transport drivers in Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag soon after the revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The killings were labeled as warnings to stop the apple trade and break the trade links with the rest of the country.
The terrorists killed persons from minority community like Kashmiri Pandit employees, non local labourers and non local transporters.
Apart from the killings by terrorists, there have been no incidents of civilian killing by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. But we know that for decades, the single story syndrome has dominated Kashmir. No one dares to expose the truths.
The commoners forget the excesses of the terrorists. The commoners forget how brutal the terrorists are. Due to the influence of the separatists, the tradition has been that most Kashmiris only speak aloud about the failures of the present government. But this negative trend is now changing.

Affirmative Developments

The academic system has bought in the line with national academic calendar. The education system in Kashmir has changed. Much focus is given towards improving the teaching facilities in the schools.
The newly created Waqf Board has streamlined the donation process. The Board has revised and increased the rents of Waqf properties. There are a number of positive initiatives for which the LG Administration, the state departments and machinery are working hard. But the huge gap caused by the loss of 40 years cannot be bridged in three years. It will take time for complete recovery.
Those who drive the negative narrative ignore all such positive results. Their focus is on driving false narratives and blaming the government. There may be loopholes in the functioning of the government. But if we put the entire output on the table, the positives are far higher.
India has invested a lot for the progress and prosperity of Kashmir. Sadly, the government failed to counter the separatists’ narrative and build a pro-India narrative among the Kashmiris. More work needs to be done to change the perception of the people in Kashmir.

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