What is happening?
Despite peace in Valley, why is government only seeing the trouble?
POINT OF VIEW BY RIYAZ AHMAD
It is again June in Valley. The Valley is headed into the middle of summer, a season now associated with the unrest in Valley. A huge sense of de javu thus hangs over the place. Will the situation follow the pattern of the past three summers and stagger into a familiar crisis? There is no apparent sign that it would. But then Kashmir has been such an uncertain place. Things can go off at a tangent just when normalcy seems firmly in place and poised to last. And at the same time the provocations for the trouble have been difficult to predict. They can be as varied as the entire gamut of socio-political life of this place. What, however, underpins them all is the endemic perception of Kashmir among its people as an unresolved political dispute. This over the years has bred a lack of confidence in the system and the perception of it as something foreign. As a result, Kashmir finds itself in a limbo prone to regard the present political set up as transitory which in time will give way to a permanent arrangement.
It is not that people do not participate in the system. They do as the recent panchayat polls would have us believe. But they are also loathe to cement this engagement and intermittently rebel against it. This sentiment has its dormant and dynamic phases. And these phases can be both predictable and difficult to foresee.
The situation over the past three years has followed a certain trajectory that has made the government confident of predicting it and hence initiate measures to prevent it. This is why we are witnessing a heightened security vigil across the Valley. This time not against the militants but the separatist activists and the youth. The recent statement issued by J-K Police itself says that around 5000 persons have been arrested over the past one year, 258 of them booked under Public Safety Act. However, 83 have since been released. And if the current figures are to be compared with those issued in early March this year when only 171 had been held under PSA, the number of PSAs slapped in the past three months comes out to be 87. Not only this, the administration recently also clamped section 144 in Srinagar preventing assembly of more than four persons.
Besides, some actions over the past two months stand out. Government clamped curfew in the city on May 21 to thwart the annual separatist rally at Eidgah to commemorate the death anniversary of the two separatist leaders Molvi Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone. This is for the first time that the rally was stopped. The rally was not even barred through the unprecedented unrest of the past three years despite the fact that it starts in the form of a procession at Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s residence at Nageen, wades through the downtown city and ends in a huge public rally at Eidgah. This year’s rally was important as the separatist leaders had themselves raised questions about the identity of the persons who killed Molvi Farooq and Abdul Ghani Lone.
Government has also barred the arrival of rights activists in Valley. Recently, the noted activist Gautam Navlakha was deported from Srinagar airport with Union minister for renewable energy Farooq Abdullah justifying it as necessary to maintain peace in the state. The former J-K Chief Minister also sent an indirect message to the Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy not to venture to the state.
This sorry state of affairs has also been noted by the Kashmir dialogue panels working to set up an engagement between New Delhi and Srinagar. Ram Jethmalani, the head of the Kashmir Committee which just finished its first visit to the state after its overnight revival has used the extreme words against the cycle of the arrests in the state without trial and charges. Jethmalani said the situation in Kashmir reminded him of Nazi Germany.
This shows a government that is responding to a situation that doesn't exist on the ground. It is fighting off a bad memory. What looks baffling is that these tough measures are being initiated at a time when the protagonists of the last year’s unrest are at the forefront of the efforts to make this year’s summer peaceful. Hurriyat (G) chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani has extended a warm welcome to the tourists and wished them a happy stay. JKLF supremo Yasin Malik has hosted a group of the tourists at his residence. As a result Valley is in the thick of tourism. According to the tourism minister Nawang Rigzin Jora, the Valley is witnessing its best tourist season in the past four years.
So what makes government sleepless? Why does it give the appearance of firefighting when Kashmir is at its calmest in years? Why doesn't government get on with the good governance and let the situation just be? These are the questions people would like to be answered. For, in its desperation to stop the recurrence of the turbulence of the past three years, there is a danger that government may only be abetting one. The kind of roughneck approach that it has adopted to respond to an imagined situation may lead to some real disaffection on the ground. It is therefore high time to realize its folly and understand one important thing. That, while unrests cannot be manufactured out of nowhere they can duly be provoked provided government gives grounds for such provocation.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 7 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 7 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 8 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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