Unjustified and provocative

While Eid-ul-Zuha was celebrated in all parts of the troubled State with usual fervour and gaiety, the curbs on the movements of the separatist leaders and even the common people in some areas only contributed to dampen the festive spirit and vitiate the atmosphere. There was certainly no justification to keep the Hurriyat leaders under house arrest on this auspicious day even preventing them from visiting the mosques and Idgah for offering their Eid prayers. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has been under house arrest for quite some time since his last release from custody, was not allowed to proceed to Hazratbal shrine where he was scheduled to offer Eid prayers. Similarly Mirwaiz Umar Farooq too was not allowed to move out of his house in Nagin Bagh to visit Jama Masjid for joining the Eid congregation. Shabir Shah had to keep himself confined to his office when he was prevented to proceed for Anantnag where he was scheduled to offer paryers on the occasion. Several other separatist leaders too were kept under house arrest to prevent them from offering prayers in the mosques. While denying civil liberties to any one cannot be justified to prevent some one to discharge his or her religious duties is indeed most reprehensible act.

While the leaders were forced to remain indoors even free movements of common people were restricted in several areas of Srinagar. At several places in the Valley the police and security forces fired rubber bullets and even resorted to firing, tear gassing and lathi-charge to disperse the pro-freedom demonstrators. Most of them were coming out from mosques after offering prayers. Ironically such curbs on the movements of the people and Hurriet leaders were placed within days of the second visit of the Centre’s Kashmir interlocutors, who in Srinagar suggested the release of all political leaders and youth detained under the Public Safety Act or otherwise taken into custody during the past few months. They had also talked of overcoming trust-deficit by putting an end to all human rights abuses. The role of the interlocutors was to create a conducive climate and prepare a road map for pursuing the process of dialogue for resolving the prolonged crisis. Obviously, repression on the people, denial of their civil liberties, arrests of political leaders and other human rights abuses and the process of dialogue cannot go together. Such repressive measures used by the State authorities which only further vitiate the climate and add to perpetuate the crisis of confidence appear to be aimed at provoking the people for subverting any dialogue process. These will only further strengthen the general belief in Kashmir that New Delhi by appointing the interlocutors was buying time and its claim of pursuing any meaningful dialogue process for Kashmir solution is not genuine.

That no dialogue process can move forward in a climate of mistrust, which prevails in Kashmir due to the acts of omission and commission both by the State and central governments cannot be denied. While the alienation of the people was due to failure of New Delhi to address the basic Kashmir problem to the satisfaction of the people’s genuine political urges, the strong-arm methods used during the past two decades have only further widened the gulf between the people of Kashmir and New Delhi. The policy of repression has only proved counter-productive. Unfortunately, some of the gains achieved due to the implementation of healing touch policy, though only half-heartedly, after the 2002 election, have been lost with the present regime returning back to the policy of repression. This has been particularly so for the past five months with the state returning to the policy of repression, intimidation and terror and its forces resorting to grave human rights abuses. During this period a large number of persons, particularly innocent youth and children, have been killed and several others injured, hundreds of people have been detained under the draconian laws and strict curbs have been placed on the free movements of the people.

There are powerful elements among politicians, bureaucrats and the security forces who have a vested interest to prolong the conflict and subvert any move for a meaningful dialogue to resolve the crisis. At a time when there was a universal demand for putting an end to all kinds of human rights abuses by allowing free movement of people and upholding their right for peaceful protest, probing into all cases of killings and other HR abuses followed by stern punishment to those found guilty, releasing all those in captivity and removing curbs on the movements of the leaders and public, scraping the draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and PSA and gradually removing the armed forces to the barracks for creating a congenial atmosphere for pursuing a dialogue process those at the helm appear hell-bent to pursue a policy of repression.