Counter-productive moves

With no signs of the situation in the troubled Kashmir returning to normal, there are ominous signs of New Delhi and its pliant regime in Kashmir returning to the strong-arm method policy to suppress the genuine political aspirations of the estranged people and silence every voice of dissent. The “ bullet for bullet, policy pursued by the Indian state for over two decades from 1990 when the militancy started not only caused unprecedented deaths and destruction but also contributed to great extent in further alienating the people of the State from the Indian mainstream and pushing them to the walls. The dialogue process between India and Pakistan for resolving all their disputes including that of Jammu and Kashmir followed by ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir and a couple of Kashmir-related confidence building measures like the opening of Srinagar-Muzaffrabad road and a few other routes across the LoC brought much relief to the suffering people while generating hope of return to peace and normalcy. The healing touch policy followed by the Mufti Moahmmed Sayeed –led PDP-Congress coalition, which came to power in 2002 election, though implemented only half-hearted did bring a significant improvement in the ground situation, bridging the trust-deficit to some extent. The entire process has been reversed with the derailing of the peace process and the composite dialogue coming to a screeching halt following the Mumbai terror attack and the return of the policy of repression in Kashmir and gains accrued in the near past have been totally lost. The current phase of unrest, which assumed an alarming proportion, actually started with the Shopian rape and murder case and the fake encounter in Northern Kashmir. During the past few months over 115 innocent persons including children were killed in Kashmir and hundreds of persons put behind bars. Though there was some respite in view of Eid celebrations the situation in Kashmir appears to be again becoming volatile. The State agencies have again opted for the policy of repression, coercion and intimidation.

Some of the recent incidents make it obvious that the authorities are opting for strong-arm methods to suppress the people’s political urges and aspirations and silencing the voice of dissent. A kind of fear psychosis is again being created to justify the policy of repression. The police claim of the killing of three militants in Qamarwari area on Monday has been disputed not only by the residents of the area but also be a senior leader of the ruling National Conference. While the father of one of the victims of the police action has described his son, who was a college student, as innocent and not connected with militancy, the NC member of Lok Sabha from Baramualla, Sharif Shariq has described the killing of youth as “cold-blooded murder” while demanding the arrest of the “guilty cops”. By alleging a link-up between the militants and stone-pelters, only few days earlier the IG police had perhaps prepared the ground for Monday’s police action. The entire incident calls for an independent probe to know the truth. Tragically, not only such encounters are raising doubts about the intentions of the State authorities but even the manner in which the Hurriet Conference leaders are being arrested again also confirms the suspicion that New Delhi and State authorities are heading for confrontation with the people. Two senior Hurriet leaders,Shabir Shah and Nayeem Kahn, who were released only recently after prolonged incarceration, were again arrested at Singhpora on Sunday last while they were on their way to Baramula. Their arrests sparked protests in the area with violent clashes between the police and the protestors.

Again the President of the Kashmir Bar Association Mian Abdul Qayoom, who was ordered to be released by the High Court which quashed his detention order under the PSA was rearrested soon after within the jail premises. A large number of people continue to be behind bars, having been detained under the notorious PSA and these include children arrested on the frivolous charges of pelting stones. The manner in which some senior Hurriet leaders have been assaulted recently for expressing their views, with the authorities failing to act against the assaulters only confirms the impression that New Delhi is not interested in pursuing a process of dialogue to address the concerns of the separatist leaders and find a peaceful negotiated solution of the Kashmir problem.