Refusing to learn lessons
The situation in Kashmir is really worrisome – troubling because there is a huge multitude of actors who are working overtime to just ensure that the situation here remains forever on boil. And mind it these provocateurs are present on both sides of the political divide -- non -state actors as well as the state actors, in the uniform and in civvies.
Latest on Kashmir comes from southern district of Shopian where four more civilians have fell to the bullets fired by Army troops. No matter what has been said or what more will be said to explain these killings, fact of the matter remains that this latest bout of violence may well have been avoided if only the men in the ‘olive greens’ had over the years been sensitized into behaving like the ‘blue helmets’ also – which is what is needed of them when operating in a place like Kashmir, more so with the civilian population whom the country’s political establishment doesn’t tire of claiming as being “our own people”. But unfortunately this area has all along remained a neglected backwater of the official policy on Kashmir and hence Valley has had to deal with recurring bouts of blood-letting at the hands of state’s armed forces. Ordering probes at the back of each episode of “avoidable civilian killings” is, at its best, only a failed ploy to cool tempers because scores of such probes that have been instituted thus far have hardly ever been able to fix responsibility and punish the guilty.
While the separatists are usually blamed for provoking people for sure-loser confrontations with the government forces, the latter however is also culpable of having taken people as being expendable, who they could, and they have been targeting with absolute disdain and without any fear of law. So in any case, the governments cannot escape their share of blame – of having given a free run to the state forces, who in the garb of maintaining order are showing no restraint whatsoever while dealing with civilians -- and stone-pelting or in many cases only slogan-shouting mobs. And the immediate fallout of this strategy is that the people are getting killed and injured almost on daily basis.
This trail of civilian killings has cost J&K government its face. Living in mediatized world as we are, people have seen how the governments in other states behave in the face of grave provocations. Be it the Jat agitation in Haryana in not so recent past, or for that matter the ongoing confrontations in different BJP-ruled states over the screening of ‘Padmavat’ movie. Nowhere else are the “miscreants” showered with the bullets as has been the standard procedure in Kashmir.
Those lecturing Kashmiris to come and talk within the ambit of Indian Constitution must try and explain how do they justify same Constitution and similar set of laws, including even the police manuals, justifying different parameters and yardsticks for dealing with violent mobs in different states. How and why is it that even non-combatant people in Kashmir are greeted with bullets, but the rampaging arsonists elsewhere in other BJP-rules states are handled with proverbial kid gloves?
Irrespective of how they may chose to articulate their positions and politics, fact of the matter remains while the political executive’s duplicity and hypocrisy vis-à-vis Kashmir stands exposed. It has over the years attracted so much damage that it will be very difficult to undo it by ordering half-hearted probes which people here no longer trust.