Kashmir, rather than being the crown of India, has become a mar on the Indian democratic experiment. A problem since independence, the Indian government seems to be truly lost on how to move forward in dealing with the ongoing protests. The current uproar has been due to the potential modification of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). This proposed change would give Indian security forces broad powers to use force in Kashmir, while shielding them from liability. In Kashmir, which closely resembles a police state, these changes would effectively damage any chance for peaceful solution or even a dialogue, as the people would use the AFSPA as a rallying cry for more extremist action.
The violence of a government against its own citizens is usually done in the name of national security and this is usually the case in India as well. For the eighty or so people that were killed during anti-India protests over the last three months, their cause is freedom movement. Rather than be a part of Indian rule (or even Pakistani rule), many Kashmiris are coming to the conclusion that the way forward for them is through a plebiscite which would most likely approve independence. For obvious reasons, India is dead against the plebiscite idea even though the right to self-determination is one that is implicitly recognized by the state, as a member of the United Nations. Many of the people of Kashmir have been doing all they can to undermine Indian rule, including violating curfews and leading rallies.
However, inasmuch there have been human rights violations by the Indian government, it also has the responsibility to protect the people that are not a part of the mainstream view and who are getting caught in the crossfire of the violent protests. There has been no real leader for the Kashmir protests, making it very hard for the government to negotiate (if they ever wanted to take that route). Furthermore, without a cessation of violence, it is difficult for the government to compromise as it would perpetuate the belief that the central leadership is weak. So we come to the classic crossroads in which neither party is willing to sacrifice a little to reap large rewards (ie. the cooperative outcome).
What is the way forward for Kashmir? I think its clear but not feasible due to the large level of compromise that would have to be undertaken by the Indian government in the small term, especially losing face to Pakistan. But in the long term, it would make India more secure and stable, without the tensions in Kashmir or the spillover effects of a weakening Pakistan. If Kashmir was indeed independent, it would be easier to protect the borders against a fledgling nation rather than an established foe. However, this rationale may never take root as no Prime Minister wants to be the one who allowed secessionists to win, causing a possible snowball effect in northeastern part of the country as well.