The terrorist attack on the convoy of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Pulwama in Jammu-Kashmir has shocked the entire nation. The explosion is said to be the biggest suicide strike to have taken place in Kashmir in 18 years. The attack took place on the CRPF convoy that was moving from Jammu to Srinagar, near Awantipora in Pulwama District.
At the time this goes into print, 43 jawans are reported to have become martyrs, and about 40 soldiers have suffered serious injuries. It was a suicide attack in a car laden with explosives hitting the convoy carrying the soliders. Adil Ahmad Dar, a commander of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed, has been identified as the suicide bomber. Jaish-e-Mohammed has issued a statement claiming responsibility for the act too, and they have also released a video message of Adil Ahmad Dar made before the explosion. This is the biggest terrorist incident on a military target since the attack on the military camp in Uri in 2016.
The county's political leadership cutting across ruling and opposition parties, has strongly condemned the incident. Prime Minister Modi, who conveyed condolences to the families of the soldiers who courted martyrdom, has also said that "sacrifices of our personnel won't go in vain". Needless to say this is the hour when political parties have to stand united forgetting differences. The coming days will see parties releasing messages of unity and patriotism. All the same, the fact remains that the attacks in Kashmir are increasing as time moves on. One cannot ignore the question how long one can silently watch this bloodshed. Be it the forces or civilians, precious lives are burning dead. The fact that stares at us is that even after seven decades since attaining independence, Kashmir continues to be a sore on the nation's body. What can be a solution to this crisis is a question that everyone, forgetting political differences, should raise in right earnest.
It is well recognised that this is not the time to raise political allegations. At the same time, there are certain facts that cannot be covered up. Those who rule the country now are those who had vowed to crush terrorism tooth and nail. And it is in the same period that they for the first time became part of the government in Jammu-Kashmir state. But as a matter of fact, the worst attacks in Kashmir took place during this period. 2018 was a year when Kashmir was seething, a period when not only the sniper hits by extremists on armed forces, but bloody strikes by the youth who entered the streets also were on the highest. Narendra Modi and the BJP had claimed that demonetisation will uproot the extremism from Kashmir. But the truth is that it was after demonetization that the troubles in Kashmir got aggravated the most.
Seven lac armed men are deployed in Jammu-Kashmir. Taken as density of the military in a civilian zone, Kashmir is the region with the biggest military penetration in the world. For decades, infinite amounts of funds from our national income are being spent for the restoration of normalcy in Kashmir. The attacks on Thursday in Kashmir cannot be attributed to any failing on the part of the central government. Whoever rules there, Kashmir has till now remained trouble-torn, though with varying degree and scale. But what the current Kashmir situation proves is that there is no substance in the BJP and sangh parivar claim that only they can defeat terrorism.
That being so, the introspection all sides should make is whether there has been any flaws in their Kashmir policy. If there has been any, it is incumbent on all parties to correct them and create an atmosphere so that blood will not flow again in Kashmir. In the military operation conducted on 10 February, five extremists were killed. The funeral of those killed was attended by tens of thousand of people. This has become a pattern in Kashmir. In other words, that the extremists are winning popular support has to be viewed seriously. In such a situation, political leadership cannot leave the whole matter in the hands of the military and stand aloof. Instead, an atmosphere has to be created when their endeavours will get people's support. And the onus of this falls on the leadership in Srinagar and New Delhi alike; and there can be no baulking of that role. Otherwise, there is no point in passing condolence resolutions when jawans become martyrs.