|Omar’s theories on Gool outrage are most unconvincing and will fuel more anger|
| Chief minister Omar Abdullah’s recent interview has inspired criticism from various corners in Jammu and Kashmir owing to several of his remarks and there are few surprises on that account. Whether it is his stand on the Gool killings or his take on Kashmir dialogue, his deceptions are neither convincing nor pleasing. As usual, he has once again invoked the AFSPA mantra this time without virtually taking a stand, with a simple allusion to Hyderpora attack by militants on one hand and Markundal killings on the other. While accusing separatists of talking to “agencies” while shunning Centre, he has claimed to have made attempts to facilitate dialogue between separatists and Centre. What adds an element of ridiculousness to his remarks is his distinction between agencies and Centre as two separate and unrelated entities with neither being accountable to the other, which is probably a fact only if he is referring to Pakistan’s covert agencies or those from any other country. He refers to Ram Jethmalani, who heads the Kashmir Committee, as “an agency”, forgetting that the group when it was initially formed had the blessings of the Vajpayee led NDA government in August 2002, in which Omar Abdullah was a a junior minister. He doesn’t spell out any other ‘agent’ nor elaborate whose agents the separatists met. This appears to have been done with an aim to either confuse the public to divert attention or create further divisions within the already fractured and splintered group of separatists. He succeeds, however, at neither because his hollow claims of facilitating dialogue betray his non-seriousness and the senselessness of the language he chose to use during his interview. The picture he paints is far away from reality since the five years of his tenure have been marked by repression, enhanced patterns of impunity and denial of justice, all of which promote and facilitate anger not space for a dialogue. The recent Gool killings in which he has tried to defend the security forces is just one case in point.
His remarks on the Gool killings are part of the pattern of blatant attempts to trivialise heinous murders, which he first sought to do with the politicking over the number of dead and now with the story of an Imam, considered by him to be potent enough to enrage and provoke an entire population of his village on one side and the BSF and police on the other. The PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti may not be quite off the mark in trying to find similarities between the way Shopian rapes and murders were handled and the way the Gool killings are being tried to swept under the carpet as if nothing consequential happened in an obscure and remote village of this backward hilly area. Is this going to be yet another case of making whistle blowers the accused? Interestingly, the superintendant police Ramban who showed no spine in taking timely action in Gool incident and thereafter is the same man who stood accused in the Shopian rapes and murders, which according to Omar Abdullah’s imagination never happened. The only scapegoat that the government found in the Gool case was the SHO and official claims have been made ever since that action has been taken against him; though the only action effected so far is his mere transfer, which obviously does not amount to any punishment or even official indictment. Omar Abdullah has simply relied on the official probes by the BSF and the police in the case, without even paying much heed to local representatives and public of the area and without even realizing how prejudiced departmental inquiries can be, especially in a state where an obsession with protecting and shielding the men in uniform has become the norm.
Whatever, theories that the chief minister tried to peddle, he hasn’t been convincing at all. His deceptions are no longer palatable. Rather, he should realise that they only end up fuelling more anger and rage; and these are dangerous weapons in a place like Jammu and Kashmir, already sitting virtually on a live volcano ready to erupt any time.