Worsening situations requires reduction of militarization and fair investigations into all incidents of violence

Dangerous signals
Some recent incidents mired in mystery are ominous signals, foreboding of an impending disaster and must not simply be considered as aberrations or stray incidents. Whether it is the recent unrest in and around Baramulla, some crackdowns and arrests across the Valley, the alleged rape by a territorial army personnel of a woman in Kupwara, the alleged bid by police to abduct a migrant employee in Kupwara, some odd explosions in Konan Poshpora and the murderous attack on a doctor by unidentified gunmen. All these incidents may be unrelated but forming a part of the larger picture of uncertainty, deep-rooted alienation and militarization, they are loosely linking frames of a larger canvas. They cannot be dismissed as trivial because they would seem insignificant only if each is viewed in isolation from the other. However, an increasing slew of such mysterious and unresolved incidents, adding to the eeriness of the situation, offer an insight into the massive and ever widening gulf between the people and the government’s agencies on one hand and highlight the potential of revival of militancy, the signs of which were revealed by yet another late night incident of arson on Monday in Kupwara. Such incidents thrive in conditions of deep-rooted alienation and anger which, despite its off and on dormancy, has been on a spiraling rise in the past few years and cannot simply be wished away by creating false facades of what the government loves to project as normalcy and even much less by continuum of repressive measures and brutal actions. Insurgency may indeed be a cause for concern but insurgency itself cannot thrive without pushing the entire population, through ways that are excessively brutal, towards sympathising with it. 

Insurgency cannot be fought simply by retaliation, it needs to be nipped by methods that are preventive and this can be ensured only by winning over the confidence of the public, not by pushing them further into recesses of anger, helplessness and uncertainty. It is in this light that the recent mysterious incidents need to be viewed reinforcing the need for fair probes that have always remained elusive in the last two and half decades. In the present mood of rigidity, there is every possibility of the valley slipping into a situation that would have dangerous repercussions for not only Jammu and Kashmir but the entire South Asian region. 

While the mist needs to be cleared from recent incidents of arson by unidentified gunmen as well as allegations against men in uniform, there is need to focus on normalizing the Valley through a slew of steps aimed at winning the trust and confidence of the people. That has been the demand of the situation for over a decade but the government by not responding to the need of the time, has allowed increasing impatience to be turned into a volcano of rage and hatred by trying to quell every form of dissent and expression of resentment with jackboots and guns. Such belligerence fuelled by a mindset of treating with hostility the entire population as an enemy cannot quell unrest, it can only aid the revival of militancy in a much more venomous form. The situation requires reduction of both militarization and introduction of methods of fair investigations in all incidents of violence, whoever be the perpetrator and bringing the guilty to book. There can be no other substitute of restoring confidence of the people. The mysterious ways of intimidating the public or trying to browbeat them into subjugation with repressive brutality must be dispensed with and replaced with three pronged strategy of reducing the footprints of the military, making police and other government organs more responsive to the needs of the public and also by introducing mechanisms of truth telling and justice.