Removing bunkers is only a baby step towards bringing some real change
BIG BITE BY JAVAID MALIK
Recently paramilitary CRPF vacated the building – Palladium cinema of the yore - in Lal Chowk area of the Srinagar city. Paramilitary personnel were stationed in it from early nineties soon after the armed rebellion broke out in the Valley. The strategic location of the building helped CRPF men keep a close vigil on the activities of people. The theatre which used to screen films of top Bollywood actors prior to nineties became the centre of the battlefield for nearly 20-years as Lal Chowk witnessed numerous attacks since 1990 to 2012.
Gun totting paramilitary men in full battle gear guarding the Palladium cinema and watching every passerby and checking their identity cards were among the tasks assigned to the personnel deployed there. Initially people were shocked to observe that they have to prove their identity to an outsider but along with the passage of time it became a routine.
When CRPF vacated the Palladium building a ceremony was held to commemorate the occasion. The Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda announced that now Jammu and Kashmir Police would be deployed in the building, while Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani said the process of bunker removal from various parts of Srinagar city would continue.
Shopkeepers around Palladium cinema heaved a sigh of relief. Despite the number of attacks declining in the recent past and violence going down Police would continue to keep a vigil around strategically important Lal Chowk. It took 20-years for CRPF to vacate Palladium, it may take 20 more years for JK Police to leave the building.
Apparently an impression is being created that by dismantling bunkers and vacating the buildings which were taken over by the forces a lot has been achieved and people can breathe easy. Some people are of the opinion that much hype is being created about bunker removal to prove that normalcy has returned while others believe that it is being done to make people believe that it’s a part of the package aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue.
There is no doubt about the fact the less number of force personnel guarding the roads and bunker free Srinagar would bring lot of respite to the people. But the question is when armed struggle started in 1990 there were no bunkers in the Valley and it was no issue for people. After 22-years of turmoil bunkers have become as big as Kashmir issue. All efforts are being put to restore pre-1990 position and people are being made to believe that its restoration is as good as Azadi. When one looks back he is forced to think what Kashmiris have achieved in past 20-years? Issues which were non issues prior to 1990 have become major issues and addressing these is being projected as a big achievement.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on many occasions has reiterated that he wants to reduce the footprint of forces from Jammu and Kashmir. Not many people doubt his intention but the fact is that Kashmir issue is not only about reducing the footprint of forces it has many dimensions and presence of forces is just a part of it. If Kashmiri leaders are sincere then they should ask New Delhi and Islamabad to address the political dimensions of the issue. If they succeed in doing so it would restore the shattered confidence of the people and it would make them believe that sacrifices rendered by them in past 20-years have not gone in a vain.
Removing bunkers can be a baby step towards restoring the confidence of people but in no way can be it projected as a major victory. Kashmiri leaders need to rise above their stated stands to make people believe that they are their true representatives and for them they (people) matter the most. They have to make people believe that restoration of normalcy is not their defeat.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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