The entire Valley is burning. The macabre incidents that weave together the blood and gore mercilessly consuming young lives have become an integral part of our recent political history. We have been familiar not just to its evolution, reasons and causes, but also a witness to this saga that over the years has attained much more gravity.
That the killing of just three militants— only one among them famous— could cause an instantaneous groundswell in the Valley calls for a deeper reflection at the highest political level in the country. What actually has gone wrong? Only just a few days back the people in the area voted to choose their political representative; and now they are on streets showing anger against every symbol of the state.
We must ask a very pertinent question. Is the situation back to square one, or it was always like this and we were just deluding ourselves into presuming that some sort of peace had prevailed in Kashmir.
Since 2008, though the militancy has visibly waned considerably as compared to worst 1990s era, there have been some major public uprisings including Amarnath land agitation in Kashmir. These agitations should serve as an eye opener for those who seek to construe peace from the intervening brief – and sometimes extended— phases of normality.
Instead of addressing the situation, unfortunately there has been a display of "negative politics" in the state particularly during last about two years that seeks to completely ignore the public sentiment. The emotive political issues with a bearing on the social life being raised time and again, particularly during the past about two years purely for "political reasons" have only added further volatility to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
As if this was not enough, there have been attacks – both veiled and open— sought to be made on the special status that Jammu and Kashmir enjoys and is entitled to under the constitution of India. This all has supposedly heightened the sense of hopelessness among the youth who once had been promised "sky is the limit" and everything is possible within the ambit of Insaniyat.
In a choked political atmosphere where consistent attempts purportedly remain underway to suppress every voice of dissent, it is not hard to image that any prick could make the pent-up anger burst into explosion. That is what has happened in Kashmir during all these agitations.
And, to make the things worse, the government of India has not given heed even to reports/recommendations by its own parliamentary or other officially constituted committees. Kashmir has been denied even what it is possible within the constitution of India. Who does not know that devolving more powers to the constituent units in a federal structure is not just possible but advisable for the growth and health of democracy?
The serious situation that emerges every now and then in the backdrop of the incidents like the present one, needs to be appreciated and addressed too. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah has rightly pointed out that Kashmir's "disaffected have got a new icon in Hazbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani" while expressing apprehension that "his death could lead to more youths joining militancy than his exploits on social media."
Umar was incisive: "Mark my words – Burhan's ability to recruit into militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media." He further went on to say: "After many years, I hear slogans for 'Azadi' resonate from the mosque in my uptown Srinagar locality."
The present dispensation in the state, apart from other electoral assurances it made, had come with the promise of facilitating initiation of the internal interface between the separatists and government of India. Though perhaps beyond its competence, it had even promised to persuade India to engage in a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan. So far no visible effort has been made by it on either end. Similarly, the BJP-led NDA government after taking the oath of the office had wished good relations with its neighbour— Pakistan. Such wishes have sadly been allowed to be hijacked by some extremist voices.
Kashmir is a political issue that needs to be addressed politically, the sooner it is realized the better it is. This issue cannot be allowed to hold back the growth and prosperity of subcontinent which still is home to the majority of poor in the world. There is need for a sustained and an irreversible process of meaningful dialogue between the real stakeholders on this issue with a firm and honest commitment from all the sides to find solution.
Meanwhile, there is need to improve the crowed control management along the lines that would ensure use of as little force and doing as little injury to person and property as may be consistent with dispersing the assembly. It has been held in several cases by the courts in the country that when police/armed forces fire without lawful order from the authorities on the members of an unlawful assembly and cause the death, the state government would be vicariously liable. There could be no excuse to take the lives. Every time a life is taken, it raises the passions. It is time we doused the flames not flared them up.