Ominous signs of prolonged uncertainty and climate of confrontation


The natural fallout of the haste and manner in which Afzal Guru, main accused in the Parliament attack case , was hanged in Tihar jail and his body buried in the jail premises without even informing his family members is the further alienation of the people of Kashmir from New Delhi . While the recent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control have already resulted in the disruption of the ongoing process of composite dialogue between India and Pakistan , with important decisions like the relaxation of visa system kept on hold and the scheduled visit of the Pakistan parliamentarians to New Delhi on the opening of budget session cancelled , the hanging of Afzal Guru with the entire valley seething with anger is bound to prolong the political uncertainty and climate of confrontation

.The entire valley is virtually under siege since early Saturday morning with barricades put at various places, curfew imposed, soldiers patrolling the streets and people preventing from moving out . All news channels have been closed , even mobile internet services were snapped , forcing suspension of the publication of local newspapers . Defying strict curbs the angry people in several parts of the valley came out to protest with the police and para-military forces opening fire and several persons injured in the clashes .

The separatist leaders belonging to various divided factions of the Hurriet Conference, have demonstrated unity by giving calls for shut down and strong protests against the hanging of Guru . Even the leaders of the mainstream political parties , with the exception of the sangh parivar outfits, have come out openly to condemn the manner in which the execution has taken place ignoring their plea to accept Guru’s mercy petition. While chief minister Omar Abdullah asserted that he was not in the loop as for as the execution of Guru was concerned, his uncle and the party general secretary Mustafa Kamal has expressed his party’s disapproval of the manner in which Guru has been hanged . The main opposition party , PDP, too has voiced its resentment against the manner in which Guru’s mercy petition was rejected and exe cution took place without informing his wife .

The manner in which the chauvinistic hysteria is being built by the national electronic media and a section of the print media too is bound to further inflame the fear-psychosis , increase the trust-deficit and alienate the people from New Delhi . While the separatist leaders in New Delhi and in the Valley were put under house arrests what is more condemnable is the harassment of Kashmiris , journalists and human rights activists in the national capital . A group of them including Kashmiri students and peace activists was attacked and several of them thrashed by the parivar goons at Jantar Mantar where they were holding peaceful protest against the hanging of Guru , with the police failing to intervene. Instead a number of those assaulted by the parivar hoodlums were arrested and taken to police station . Even noted Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Geelani and SAR Geelani were detained by the Delhi police in most objectionable manner.

The anger triggered by Afzal Guru’s hanging is not likely to subside soon . It has already resulted in increasing the trust-deficit , adding to political uncertainty and climate of confrontation . The volatile situation is bound to further aggravate if not handled properly . The demonstration of armed strength, using brutal methods to crush the people’s voice and ignore the popular sentiments can only further fuel fire and add to the people;s anger and resentment . One hopes that those at the helm must have learnt appropriate lessons from their mistakes in dealing with situation caused by massive protests against the grave human rights abuses in 2010 and would handle the present crisis with utmost care to avoid any other catastrophe .

New Delhi must refrain from going on any head-on collision with the angry and estranged people of Kashmir. Instead they need to be engaged in a process of dialogue not only to defuse the present situation but also for resolving the basic Kashmir problem .The disrupted process of composite dialogue with Pakistan too needs to be renewed without any delay and pursued with greater speed.