Turmoil in Kashmir:Ineptitude, deception and indulgent to pro-Pak-rioters

Posted on August 7, 2010

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Chief of Army staff, Gen KV Singh has for the second time in the last few weeks called a spade a spade. His televised interview widely covered by the print media makes two very relevant points: Present phase of mass unrest in Kashmir is the result of failure on the political front. Gen Singh has hit the nail on the head by pointing out that the military had done its part by bringing down the level of insurgency related violence and creating a conducive enough atmosphere for launching political initiative to consolidate gains.

THE Omar Abdullah led NC-Congress coalition government is largely responsible for the turmoil in Kashmir. Omar Abdullah has confessed his inability to perform even his constitutional obligation of creating a situation of peace and normalcy. The chief minister did realise some of his mistakes. He did say that certain “vested interests” were behind what happened in Kashmir and that he and his government knew who those “vested interests” were, but he did nothing to isolate and book them. If booked for some time, they were treated with kid gloves and kept in beautiful rest houses/huts, located in the highly salubrious Chashma Shahi. He did try to act, but he acted when the damage had already been done and the whole of the administrative edifice collapsed for all practical purposes. And, when he acted, he also made certain controversial statements. For example, he again reiterated that “J&K is a political problem and it needs to be dealt with as such through external and internal dialogue”-something that suits the Kashmiri separatists and Pakistan.

Kashmiri separatists calls the practice of stone pelting as their ‘only tool of resistance against the State repression, but inspite of taking strict action against the stone pelters the State government try to handle the issue sympathetically by announcing jobs and easy loans for the trouble making youths.

“We have now stopped arresting and detaining the people involved in fomenting trouble. As soon we detain a stone pelter on the basis of recorded video evidence, we begin receiving orders of his release from Ministers, MLAs, MLCs and senior bureaucrats”, said a Senior Superintendent of Police. According to him, almost all of such calls come from leaders of the ruling National Conference (NC), particularly an Advisor to Chief Minister or officials working in Chief Minister’s Secretariat. Three of the SSPs, however, maintain that they have no adverse intervention from the proper channel of command and control.

According to senior officials of Home Ministry, the stone pelters are not booked under serious charges. “In most of the cases, a chargesheet is filed, and that too in a vague language. No further action is taken, as a result the culprits engage in such activities repeatedly,” said an official.

In most of the cases, nobody is specifically named in the FIRs that are registered against unknown persons or a mob. “The Centre wants the State to send strong messages by booking culprits,” said sources. The “act tough” advice has already been communicated to the State that has witnessed a recent surge in incidents of stone pelting and attacks on security forces. In June alone, 11 civilian have lost their lives and as many as 53 CRPF personnel got injured, many of them seriously. An inspector and a jawan of the CRPF have also received bullet injuries. The Central Government has asked the CRPF to exercise restraint in dealing with stone pelters and not retaliate.

Despite the passage of over six decades of democratic set up in India with special status to J&K under Article 370, mutual mistrust between Delhi and Kashmir as well as separatists and the State continues. Democracy and repeated elections may have dressed some wounds but has not healed them enough because politicians and vested interests have used these platforms to exploit the vote bank to turn the paradise into Mahabharata for the sake of petty political gains. Present political battle shots are worst than earlier salvos. The net result is Valley on the boil again, now for weeks together. The problem started with the killing of two militants by CRPF in an encounter in Sopore. The locals did not consider the dead as militants and presumed them to be innocent. Taking advantage of the resentment of locals the separatist leader Geelani and many others incited people to protest these killings. Situation turned worst when the mob attacked and torched a CRPF camp which had constables of local police and CRPF inside this camp. To save the lives of comrades CRPF resorted to firing resulting into deaths of civilians. More deaths led to more violent protests and stone pelting. Chief Minister instead of trying to pacify or reign in the rioters; blamed CRPF in very harsh words amounting to desperate threats thereby depicted his own helplessness which emboldened the rioters to defy curfew. Such sequence of events led to more deaths and retaliatory protests spreading across the Valley.

Who is responsible for killings in Kashmir during last two months, whether army, CRPF, JKP, protestors, political parties or State government and its policies, questioned BJP State President Shamsher Singh Manhas while addressing media persons at Jammu. The reply of a common man will be that it is due to wrong policies of the government headed by State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and infighting within the government and totally confused policies. Omar Abdullah did all his best to take lead in appeasing militants and anti-India forces only to push back PDP leaders in this front for small political gains.

The BJP leader recalled that the gang up of the Congress-NC had always brought sufferings and miseries for the people of this State and also difficulties for the country. In this regard, he referred to the happenings on 1953, 1977, 1982 and then in 1989 and said their follies are still leading to numerous problems including that of militancy which has consumed over fifty thousand lives and over five lakh people getting uprooted by becoming refugees and destitues within their own country. Over 18 months back when there was new alliance between these two jilted lovers, many fears were expressed and now these are coming true, he added.

The situation would not have assumed such a serious proportions and the human lives would not have been lost had the government been serious. It was quite strange that the rank and file of the two coalition parties as also the entire Government machinery was ‘maneuvered’ to get poor response to the Bandh call given early this month by the Jammu Sangarsh Samiti. On the contrary no one of the coalition partners came out to condemn the stone pelters and take steps to ensure failure of the unending bandh calls and civil curfew enforced by the secessionists in valley. The entire approach of the coalition leaders make the whole issue questionable as it was their moral duty to act to enforce the law and order, and work for establishing the constitutional authority of the Government.

The failure of the Omar Abdullah-led coalition government is universally acknowledged as the single biggest factor responsible for the present mess. It is not often that the most objective and fair commentary on the situation in Kashmir should be coming, of all the quarters, from the ranks of professional soldiers.

Chief of Army staff, Gen KV Singh has for the second time in the last few weeks called a spade a spade. His televised interview widely covered by the print media makes two very relevant points: Present phase of mass unrest in Kashmir is the result of failure on the political front. Gen Singh has hit the nail on the head by pointing out that the military had done its part by bringing down the level of insurgency related violence and creating a conducive enough atmosphere for launching political initiative to consolidate gains. He is right in pointing out that the failure to build upon the gains achieved on the security front was the real reason behind recent happenings. Gen Singh’s assessment is backed up by the fact that the voter participation in the 2008 Assembly elections was really encouraging despite the preceding mass upheaval over the Amarnath land issue. The expectations with which a large number of Kashmiri voters defied threats and marched to polling booths and lent credibility to a widely watched electoral process were ignored by the ruling coalition leadership. Chief minister Omar Abdullah exposed himself as being incapable of understanding even the basics of his public responsibilities.

According to one report, Omar Abdullah has told the Central leaders that “about 6 lakh youth are unemployed in the State and, thus, for them taking to streets and joining protests and showdown with police has been a recurring phenomenon faced by the authorities.” It is important to note that the unemployed youth in Jammu and Ladakh have never resorted to stone pelting. They do protest sometime, but in a constitutional and peaceful manner and, hence, to bracket them with the stone pelting unruly mobs would a great injustice to the unemployed youth of these two provinces.

Police believe that political vacuum has gripped the Kashmir Valley during the last two months and if this vacuum is not filled with a determined campaign by the leaders belonging to the ruling coalition and to other mainstream political organisations separatists may assume a bigger role which could make things hot for the security forces.

Kashmir watchers argue that even after instructions from the Centre to act fast the Chief Minister is yet to mobilise top leaders belonging to the National Conference and the Congress for assisting him in launching effective campaign against trouble mongers. Once Kashmir gets the impression that a Government, that means business, exists, it could encourage security forces to initiatiate effective measures against those indulging in violence. Once the impression surfaces that no Government exists separatists may get encouraged to create added problems for the security forces who already are under pressure to observe restraint.

By Khajuria S Kant in Jammu, Organiser

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Posted in: India