Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had said that he would have been happy if the Kashmiri protestors were firing weapons instead of throwing stones at the army.
The complex circumstances triggered due to the stone pelting by the youths including young girls that has been continuing since last July are what has evidently compelled Rawat to say so. In the violent protests that erupted after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with the army in July, over hundred people were killed, about 360 persons were blinded by pellets and 17, 340 others were severely wounded. The Kashmir Valley has been robbed of peace since then. The Centre as well as the BJP-PDP government in the state has not so far been able to bring the situation under control. It was amidst these circumstances, that eight terrorists including Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, the successor of Burhan Wani were killed on Saturday triggering violent protests across the Valley. A 48-hour bandh organised by the different separatist groups completely paralysed normal lives in the valley. The number of days the educational institutions, government offices, shops and markets had earlier remained open was also much less. Mobile and internet services have been suspended by the security forces. At present, a civilian rule cannot be said to exist in Kashmir. Security personals coming up to 13 lakh under different names are deployed in the area. The PDP-BJP government led by Mehbooba Mufti has remained as silent spectators of the happenings in the valley. Mehbooba fails to initiate effective steps other than paying frequent visits to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister or other Union Ministers. It’s in these circumstances that National Conference demanded imposition of Governor’s rule in the state. That peace won’t be restored in the Valley even after that, is a different matter.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Union Minister and Congress leader visited Kashmir along with a team of an NGO, Centre for Peace and Progress based in Kolkata and held talks with the leaders of almost all sections including separatists. Analysing the facts he put forth, it could be understood that Kashmir has drifted away from the control of the Centre like never before. Aiyar quoted the words of a prominent person who pointed out that if Kashmiris have been so far been alienated from India, now Indians are being alienated from the Kashmiris. Many pointed out during the round table conference convened by Aiyar that when BJP president Amit Shah says that only three and a half districts in the Valley have been disturbed and the rest of Kashmir was peaceful, it signals the danger of both Jammu with its Hindu majority population and Kashmir which is a Muslim majority region moving against each other. The Hurriyat leaders also warned of the greatest danger of converting the political issue of Kashmir into a Hindu-Muslim issue. Many opined that Amit Shah used a language similar to that used by Viceroy Linlithgow who demeaned the Quit India Movement that was part of India’s freedom struggle. They also reminded that the British were dismissed from the country only five years later. Mani Shanker Aiyar reminds us of the scepticisms on how to win over the Kashmiri hearts when an overwhelming military presence exists along with Ghar Wapasi, Love Jihad, beef ban, the attacks of gau rakshaks and the Hindu Yuva Vahini, the private army of Yogi Adityanath.
The Centre justifies the military interventions and the special rights act of AFSPA as means of curbing terrorism and separatism. However, the reality that the consequence would be the birth of more dangerous terrorists shouldn’t be ignored. Ali Shah Geelani is usually portrayed as a terrorist leader of the Hurriyat Conference. But he has never presented the Kashmir issue as a Hindu-Muslim issue or an Islamic issue. The voice now being heard in the Valley is that of Zakir Musa. Musa who rejects Geelani, presents Kashmir issue as an Islamic issue. Although he withdrew from his arguments due to pressure, the lunatic sentiments his talks ignite in a section of youth, would only aggravate the predicament. If one points fingers towards the Centre and the ruling party with their hardcore Hindutwa ideology for creating favourable opportunities, they couldn’t be blamed. If the Narendra Modi government moves ahead deciding that we need only Kashmir and not the Kashmiris, the crisis will remain unresolved for sure.