Two biggest CBMs
Here's what Omar can deliver sitting here in Srinagar
POINT OF VIEW--RIYAZ AHMED
What are the two biggest Confidence Building Measures that everybody believes would make a redeeming difference in Kashmir but are being ignored. In fact they are not being even acknowledged - atleast publicly as important to the situation. But if implemented in good faith they can be real game-changers. The steps are, full stop to killings and bringing immediately to book the police personnel responsible for willful excesses.
And this is why it is so. Uninterrupted killings of the youth - almost all of them teenagers and some under the age of ten - have played havoc with the situation. What started as a normal separatist protest programme on June 11 soon deteriorated into a widespread popular outrage over the death of the teenager Tufail Ahmad Mattoo in police action. And the subsequent toll went a long way in turning Valley into a smouldering cauldron that it is now. And now with 108 killings behind us, 17 of them alone on September 13, there is hardly any need for the perennial reason of unsettled Kashmir issue to legitimize the unprecedented unrest in Kashmir's streets. This alarming number of killings, many of them having taken place under the circumstances that can hardly described as provocative has emerged as an overriding cause of anger and in the process imparted a new rationale to the Azadi demand.
On the other hand, the Valley would certainly respond to a demonstrative justice by the government. A sight of the security personnel responsible for blatant excesses being taken to task would certainly send right signal and go some small way in assuaging a collective sense of pain and the consequent alienation. But the three months of almost a killing-a-day-is-the-only-way policy coupled with one-can-always-get-away attitude has made death-dealing so routine that it no longer scares its victims. In fact, a hopelessness about the killings by the security personnel counting as a sin, let alone a crime, has banalized the very concept of death in Kashmir. Result: death evokes no fear. Treated officially as a statistic, it is now also accepted as statistic by the people.
Implementing these CBMs should not be such a big headache for the state government. Atleast, it will not need Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to camp in New Delhi and try to unsuccessfully prevail on a number of leaders and many interests to make some minor changes in AFSPA, which though not irrelevant are, however, immediately unrelated to the prevailing situation in the state. Besides, why should AFSPA loom so overarchingly large under the circumstances. With imprint of police and CRPF all over the ongoing killings in Kashmir, one wonders how did AFSPA review become a central issue that it has become. Though it is an anathema in Kashmir one can't help but sympathise with the army for this undue attention. Besides, for everybody's information, AFSPA removal is not the part of Geelani five condition. He has only sought a complete demilitarization in the state which itself renders any legislative review of the law redundant. However, Mirwaiz's five demands, on the other hand, do seek a complete AFSPA revocation. But for now in Kashmir, it is Geelani who issues shutdown calenders in Kashmir which are not only followed in letter and spirit by the people but also bring Kashmir's death defying new generation to the streets.
The two CBMs are essentially of situational nature and will more than any other measure help address the volatile nature of the situation. And what is more, the implementation of these measures is well within the power of the state government. But by seeking easy refuge in the historical dimensions of the conflict, this government has been oblivious to the rising human cost of the ongoing turbulence in the state. True, Kashmir is essentially about the history, about an overarching political dimension and a war between competing nationalisms, which eventually will need to be confronted head on but this thinking in no way dilutes the imperative of dealing with the situation on a day to day basis. And finetuning the strategy to deal with protests without killing small boys should take precedence over the fiendishly complex process of say, resolving Kashmir.
There are other allied measures that are absent. For example, nobody in Valley knows the mind of Chief Minister on many things. The connection seems to have completely broken. Omar seems more like a phantom figure looming furtively at distance, who sometimes mutters inaudibly something to mainland Valley from Gurez or Tangdhar. Of course, it is unimaginable for him to address a public meeting in Valley or offer a prayer at any mosque as Eid recently demonstrated, but who stopped him from addressing Kashmir directly from his own Doordarshan or Radio Kashmir. This is something that he could have done intermittently if not everyday. And this in turn would have kept him alive in the public consciousness as a leader relevant to the situation.
But without taking steps to deliver on what is very much within his power, and urgently required under the circumstances, Omar has chosen to get New Delhi to intervene. And on an issue like AFSPA which even though it has a huge political resonance in Valley is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the situation due to the neglect of the basic CBMs at his own level. The vicious cycle of the hundreds of small daily mutinies followed by killings has developed a situation that is stubbornly resistant to half-measures or the unconvincing promise of a long drawn resolution process. Such absolute situations by their very nature demand an absolute solution. But Omar can't deliver a meagre AFSPA review, let a credible process of dialogue. Is it a dead-end then? Or conversely is it the end of road for Omar . It apparently appears so. But if he wants to persist, he better depend on himself and trust his own leadership instincts. And to start with, he can pro-actively work to stop further deaths and of course bring some sense of accountability within his police force.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 21 Sep 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 21 Sep 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 22 Sep 2010 00:00:00 IST
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