2018: Will there be peace in Kashmir, Who will rein in cow-vigilantes?

What progress a government-appointed interlocutor will achieve in Kashmir, how will a law on triple talaq evolve, who will rein in cow-vigilantism and when will India get Vijay Mallya extradited?

Next year, all eyes will be glued to these issues as well as those of the fate of Rohingya migrants, fallout of Ayodhya hearing in Supreme Court and the twists and turns in Indo-Pak relations.

The security establishment will still also have its eyes set on naxal and north-east insurgency fronts too, though no spectacular attack took place this year leaving the forces upbeat.

While first half of 2016 went without any major incident, the unprecedented terror strike on Amarnath pilgrims in July will remain a black mark on the government, as it once again proved that the forces were still not on top of the terror machinery.

Government sought to put pressure by squeeze the separatists through a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into funds they allegedly received from Pakistan for triggering trouble in the valley besides offering several sops. But peace is yet to return to the Kashmir valley, as people are still taking to the streets, there is no let-up in militant strikes and more security personnel are losing life.

While acting tough on one front, government made a surprise announcement in September appointing former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma, an old Kashmir hand, as an interlocutor to deal with the issue. With this, the government subtly changed its goal post from ‘no-talks’ to talks with all stakeholders, a euphemism for involving separatists in the process. However, Sharma’s outings in the valley have not earned much so far.

Task is also cut out for the government in reining in cow-vigilantism and right-wing groups using the bogey of love-jihad, a description used by Hinduvta elements to describe marriage between Muslim man and Hindu woman, to target minority communities. A Muslim labourer from Bengal was killed in Rajasthan with the accused claiming that he was preventing ‘love-jihad’.

Though it could put the onus on states saying law and order is a state subject, the central government would have to face flak if they do not manage to curb such incidents, especially in BJP-ruled states. Another contentious issue would be the formulation of a law on triple talaq following a Supreme Court making it illegal.

In early next year, officials also would have to burn midnight oil over dealing with Rohingyas, who have illegally crossed over to India following a purge in Myanmar. While the officialdom has taken a position that India cannot afford their presence, an adverse order from Supreme Court would have egg on its face.

Another question that would bother the security establishment would be the early conclusion of deal with NSCN(IM) on Naga issue.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald website on Dec 24, 2017)

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