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Recycling violence & unrest in Kashmir

There is a method behind this madness

by Kashmir Times, 30 April 2009

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Kashmir Times


Politically-motivated harassment by security agencies derailing normalcy

THE fragile cycle of normalcy in Kashmir is beginning to show disturbing signs of disruption under the impact of multi-dimensional election politics. That this trend should appear right at the beginning of tourist season is all the more distressing. Normal life is once again badly disturbed, throwing the usual routine into disarray. The Valley and its people have yet to recover from the disastrous ill effects of prolonged disruption. None of the actors responsible for perpetuating this sort of affairs is behaving responsibly. But the government stands out as the worst of them all. There is irrefutable evidence of how the security forces go on provoking violence and fuelling insecurity in the name of maintaining law and order.

The track record of the present day political rulers is anything but reassuring, notwithstanding their pretension to the contrary. It is not for nothing that there is a widely held belief that the National Conference in general, and its Congress partner in particular dread peace and stability as it inevitably imposes administrative transparency and accountability from which both the coalition parties have much to fear. The Omar Abdullah-led regime has proved to be lacklustre affair in the field of performance. Its fears are compounded by its uncertainty about the coalition’s showing in the race for ballot box. Security apparatus is being misused to promote the prospects of the regime. Excessive highhandedness in dealing with peaceful protestors supporting poll boycott call of the separatists is provoking violence and deepening mass resentment.

Although the elections are supposed to be a democratic exercise and this aspect is also being trumpeted day in and day out by the ruling establishment the attitude of the administration is patently undemocratic. This, more than anything else, is the reason for growing sense of general insecurity which, in turn, attracts violent reaction from the victims of governmental wrong doing. The ruling parties belonging to the mainstream political ideology as well as the administrative machinery under their control should realise that their share of responsibility is greater than that of all others. Separatist camp undoubtedly includes elements who do not subscribe to peaceful means of struggle but the experience has shown that overdoing by the government side creates a vicious circle in which the ordinary people are the worst sufferers.

The coalition parties have lately been over reacting to election boycott call
given by the Hurriyat-led separatists groups. This shows lack of faith and
confidence in the wisdom of people. The turnout of voters in the recent assembly elections should have been an apt lesson for the coalition parties to learn from. The more the administration behaves in high handed manner the more its reaction is going to be. Unfortunately, a judicious approach has never been even attempted, much less adopted. Myopic tactics aimed at extracting unfair political advantage are always a bad bargain because its long range adverse consequences are ruinous as we are witnessing at this moment.

It is really baffling that the call for protest hartal given by the separatists
in Kashmir for Wednesday and Thursday should virtually be sought to be enforced by the government with what has come to be described as ’informal curfew’. Students were turned from tuition centres, road users were sent home and people prevented from coming out of their homes, not by separatist supporters but by the security forces. Why? Nobody was there to explain. The net result is that fear and insecurity are back with vengeance. Normal life is disrupted and overall atmosphere is fraught with all sorts of fears. The conclusion that there is method behind this madness becomes inevitable. It is no secret that such fear psychosis feeds the dreaded cycle of violence. The atmosphere is getting vitiated. The slide can be checked only when the security apparatus is strictly directed to refrain from over-reacting or provoking reaction. Restrained response to sporadic incidents of lawlessness will go a long way in eliminating chances of widening the conflagration and, more importantly, restoring public confidence. Time is running out.