Save civilians at all costs

Let’s be honest in admitting that the Kashmir issue is becoming complex every minute. The killing of the seven civilians on December 15 has cast a shadow over the overall prospects of the early return of peace in the State. The killings and its fallout don’t remain confined to the spot where the unfortunate incident took place nor to the Valley alone. The whole of the State gets impacted.

Even days after the incident in Pulwama on Saturday last, a clear picture about the nature of the things that unfolded on the ill-fated day are not known . No clear picture is available till date.

Governor Satya Pal Malik has done well by expressing his concern over the unfortunate incident of the civilian killings and also by asking for a factual report of the incident from Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir. Hope, this time a proper and thorough investigation is conducted and a clear picture is placed before the people. It would still be better if the responsibility is fixed as well.

The situation in Kashmir is unsettled. To bring a semblance of order in it is must to achieve whatever the people want, and for that peace is must. This peace should be out of the volition of the people, not an enforced one. A lot of responsibility for doing so lies with the Government and the security forces. It should not be mistaken that the people have no role to play in getting this objective achieved.

A question may arise that why should the people who suffer and whose lives are irreparably damaged by the acts of violence become partners in the peace-seeking efforts. The angry and furious people whose near and dear ones have found ways to the graveyard cannot be expected to become peace activists, especially when the peace is seen as a victory for the government. There are many others who believe that the peace would mean sabotage of the struggle in which Kashmir is engaged. They don’t hesitate in saying that the return of the order or normal life would amount to the betrayal to the sacred cause for which many youngsters have sacrificed their lives, whether they were with guns , stones or unarmed.

It adds to the complexities of the situation. Peace should not be seen as all stop destination. The peace opens many opportunities and calms the nerves needed for finding a way out. Otherwise , the danger is that time and again, the narrative of peace being a bad thing for the final solution of Kashmir issue , would bring back such tragedies in one form or the other. At the moment, we are talking about the civilian casualties in Pulwama. But the question is, is it for the first time that such an incident has taken place that has outraged our psyche and inflicted both physical and emotional wounds on all of us. No.

Each incident has in its womb the seeds of the other unfortunate incident. That’s as far as we talk of the civilian casualties at the encounter sites, where militants and the non-combatant civilians suffer casualties.
We have seen the teenagers – school students – joining militancy , fighting the troops and losing their life. Is that loss less traumatizing than the loss of the grown ups caught in ugly situations at the encounter sites. This is something that the whole of Kashmir should ponder, and so should the Government. The burden of carrying the coffins of youngsters is killing us every day.

This cycle of violence must come to end . Saving more lives from such situations is not a cowardice or betrayals, as some sections see it . In fact, that is the real act of manliness that the innocent and uninvolved civilians do not become victims of the situation. Right now, there are many ideas and solutions on offer, but can any of those formulas be applied to Kashmir when the anger is rising and the graveyards are expanding. There are vows of revenge not peace. But to turn around the narrative of revenge to peace efforts is a real big challenge .
And, if that challenge is accepted and the civilians are saved from violence – much will be achieved . There is a need to give it a try.