Return of the guns

 Answer is opening channels of dialogue and introducing imperative CBMs
The attack by suspected militants in Chadoora, Budgam on a police patrolling team on Monday once again brings into sharp focus the perils that pose Jammu and Kashmir, reinforcing the fears of revival of violence and bloodshed and greater trauma for the people, already battered and bruised by slew of tragedies and trauma. There are lessons for all from Monday’s tragedy resulting in death of a police officer and injuires to 6 including 3 civilians. For those who justify and glamourise the gun as the only effective tool of resistance, history is testimony that violence can neither yield political goals, nor can it be a rightful means to seek justice. Violence and deaths cannot be celebrated or termed as anyone’s victory, even in situations of war. Loss of human lives, irrespective of who dies, can only be mourned. And whether the slain man was perceived by many to be representing a force that has been a symbol of brutality, repression and injustice, he still didn’t qualify to be killed. Neither were the casualties suffered by ordinary civilians, innocent passersby, who became part of what is justified in the name of collateral damage, this side or that. Two wrongs never make a right and though the struggle and resistance of the people against brutality, repression and for determining their own political future cannot be de-legitimised, violent means to achieve that end cannot be justified. 

The second and far more significant lesson is for the government poised with the challenge of probability of militancy raising its head once again in a far more lethal form than the nineties. These speculations are being pedalled on basis of two things: one is the probable fallout of the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, shifting the focus of armed militants and their mentors in Pakistan’s army and its intelligence wings towards Jammu and Kashmir, second is the rationale of growing influence of Islamic fundamentalism within the state. Both theories, however, are based on half baked illusions and partial knowledge. There is little impact that 2014 Afghanistan events can have in Kashmir if the internal aspect is not ignored. Similarly, Islamic fundamentalism does not grow in vacuum, rather springs from a far more competitive and the often officially patronised Hindutva fanatic influence or from increasing restlessness due to continuum of repression, allowing fanatic elements to seize the opportunity and use it to their advantage. The answer to countering any possible fallout of 2014 does not lie in military solutions, excessive paranoia legitimizing actions like fortifying the international border or scaling down the symbolic movement of goods and people across the Line of Control and in crushing the basic liberties of the people through excessive restrictions, arrests, killings and other blatant forms of human rights violations. It lies in finding remedies for the genesis of what is likely to promote militancy from within. Militancy, as has been seen in the last more than a decade, is unlikely to succeed or flourish if there is no local support for the same. The local population is likely to be compelled to once again revive their iconic love and admiration for militants in view of the government closing its doors on the people in terms of their needs – political, economic, developmental and psychological. This compulsion is likely to be enhanced beyond imagination because despite the decrease in militancy, neither has there been a satisfying decline in repressive measures by the security agencies or a reduction in the numbers of their camps and personnel. Military powers can neither crush the will of the people, nor woo them over. The issue, therefore, can be best tackled politically by opening channels of dialogue and simultaneously introducing imperative confidence building measures like reducing the footprints of the security forces, ensuring zero tolerance to human rights abuse and devising mechanisms to redress the very important issue of justice as well as in democratising thelandscape. Economic and development packages can only be helpful add on accessories to the process. 

At the same time, it is important for everybody to understand that resistance and militancy are two distinct things, even though they may sometimes, or more than often, blend into each other and be intertwined. But it is not always that a gun would be a symbol of resistance, nor can peaceful resistance and rebellion be deemed to be what is officially and demonisingly called “an act of terror”.