After 60 deaths, Sonia speaks
As Kashmir Bleeds, Feeble Conciliatory Calls Go Unheard
Srinagar, Aug 19: As the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi Thursday stepped in to douse the ominous blaze in Kashmir, there seems no end in sight to the gory cycle of human tragedies unfolding in the valley, as bullets continue to devour people, irrespective of age and gender. Latest victim of the mayhem, 8-year-old Milad Ahmad Dar has taken the toll of infants consumed by the prevailing unrest to three with his age-mates Sameer Ahmed Rah and Asif Hassan Rather already having fallen to the police action in similar circumstances.
With the civilian casualties, in the fresh wave of intense protests that started on June 11, mounting with each passing day, neither an appeal by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh nor Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s intervention seemed to have worked in preventing the unabated bloodbath.
Apparently having sensed the futility of everything tried so far, the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today made an attempt to directly reach out to the people saying dialogue and mutual understanding were the key to ending the cycle of violence as she “felt anguished at what has been happening in the Valley.” Pertinently, Sonia had initially asked the state government to put down the protesters with a firm hand.
Ironically, after Dr Singh’s televised speech at an all party meeting on Kashmir in New Delhi on August 10, eight more civilians have died in police and CRPF action since then. Dr Singh, in his speech, not only regretted the killings but had called for dialogue with all sections of the society to put an end to the unrest. But the Prime Minister’s appeal didn’t find any favours in the Valley and his call for dialogue was instantaneously rejected by the separatists. While Dr Singh was also reported to have expressed his willingness to discuss the devolution of powers in the state, which the state chief minister Omar Abdullah welcomed as the ‘autonomy offer’, the ‘big’ announcement also didn’t make any breakthrough and the killings-protests-killings continued.
Earlier, on August 4, Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, after being released from jail, addressed a hurriedly convened press conference in Srinagar wherein he, while denouncing the stone-pelting called for peaceful protests. Geelani’s argument was that the police and CRPF personnel use the stone-pelting as an excuse to shoot the unarmed protesters. While the protesters followed Geelani’s advice, the killings didn’t stop. And after Geelani August 4, ‘peaceful protest call’ 14 civilians have died in police and CRPF action in the Valley.
Even the union home minister P Chidambaram’s move to revive ‘quiet diplomacy’ in Kashmir has, this time, fallen on deaf ears.
Of the 60 civilian deaths reported during the past 70 days of unrest that started on June 11 with the killing of teenager Tufail Matoo in police action, the highest 35 civilian casualties were reported during the current month. Twenty two civilian casualties were reported in the first three days of August, during the heightened protests and the situation calmed down only after Geelani’s peace call on August 4. However, the killings continued even after Geelani’s intervention and 13 more civilians died in police and CRPF action after August 4.
While fourteen civilian deaths were reported in July, 11 youth were killed in police and CRPF action in June.
It’s to be seen whether Sonia’s reconciliatory remarks after her initial call to the state government to put down trouble makers with a firm hand will make any difference on the ground or meet the fate of earlier initiatives from Delhi.
However analysts point to a common refrain in all advice to Kashmiris to give peace a chance and try dialogue. This to most observers seems misdirected as the people have tried peaceful methods and waited for dialogue since 2002 and even in the current crisis, all the killings and most injuries have been caused by government troops. Unless this equation is changed and forces held accountable, observers would continue to treat any conciliatory noises with suspicion and cynicism.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 20 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM FRONTPAGE
- 8-yr old Kulgam boy succumbs
- Bullet pierced Milad’s brain
- Police brutalize Hazratbal residents
- Daughter, father, aunt shot; son thrashed
- After Omar, PC's no to AFSPA revocation
- Sonia anguished over Kashmir situation
- After 60 deaths, Sonia speaks
- India should read writing on the wall: Pak
- Gunmen attack NC MLA’s house
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, Aug 19: J&K Bank’s Annual Report 2008-09 has won three awards at the prestigious LACP 2009 Vision Awards – the world’s largest award programme for Annual Reports, organized by California More