Kashmir calls for restraint

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What happened on Sunday in south Kashmir is very scary. Scary not only because twenty lives were lost to the unbridled violence and hundreds of others were injured, but more because there is an unfortunate tendency of “celebrating” these deaths as a “success”. People in the security establishment as well as certain elements in the political executive and of course in the ‘war-mongering mainstream media’ are patting and complimenting each other for a large number of militants have been killed in a single day. This is indeed very tragic – because in doing so they are actually showcasing their absolute disdain for the human life!

That these happenings on the first day of April have put the entire Valley once again on fire, one could only pray and hope for some sanity so that the different sides across the politico-ideological divide instead of escalating the situation further actually do something to defuse the situation. The government and its security establishment will have to be extra cautious and careful and try and draw from past experiences to de-escalate tensions. The happenings of 2016 following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani are too fresh in everybody’s memory underscoring the need for care and caution.

Coming to the Sunday’s happenings: one may ask if killing of militants is really a “success” as is being described by certain elements? Is this the way to go about tacking the situation in Kashmir? Is there any evidence — anywhere in the world — that military measures alone have resolved issues which are primarily political in nature and which actually concern the people of flesh and blood who nurse genuine and sometimes even phony grievances against the systems and the state?

The complacence that Kashmir could be tackled through security measures only is the real culprit and obviously those responsible for having made it into a state policy must be blamed for having pushed Valley deep into the conflict trap. External scapegoating and the tailoring of evidence to slam every blame on external elements and non-state actors and “their sympathizers” within Valley for every trouble in Kashmir is just a ploy to save face and justify continuation of  a policy which refuses to see Kashmir beyond a “law and order” problem. The political leadership at New Delhi has over the years perfected the art of being in perpetual mode of denial when it comes to the events in Kashmir. They know that whatever happens in Kashmir can be and should be slammed on “forces across the border” and they have been doing it successfully on that count. But as far as the internal situation in Kashmir is concerned, it has only gone from bad to worse over the years. Because not much has been done to take care of the anger and alienation, or for that matter even the genuine grievances within. Which is why it is always ready to spill over on to the roads and streets to challenge the state and its might even when the recipient population knows that these sure-loser confrontations are going to cost it life and limb!

The tactic of blaming Pakistan for troubles in Kashmir works well with the domesticated domestic audiences in India, which is the political constituency New Delhi actually caters to and worries about. But then some amount of care and concern must also be reserved for the people of Kashmir. The responsibility of protecting their life and limb also lays squarely with the state. It cannot and should not be undermined – howsoever challenging the situation is. Today once again there is need for caution and restraint and all sides will have to ensure that they do not push the threshold of violence any further.

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