Tears of Kashmir

The cross-border terrorist attacks that have been continuing unchecked in Jammu and Kashmir makes a mockery of the tall claims of the government regarding the impregnable security measures enforced.              

In the latest instance, five soldiers and father of one of the soldiers were killed in an attack on the Sunjuwan military camp by the terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) that consisted of four or five persons. According to the reports, though three extremists were killed in the counter attacks by the security forces, one of them escaped. Several weapons have reportedly been seized from those who were killed.  A constable was killed the very next day in a terror attack on the CRPF camp in Srinagar. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman warned that Pakistan will have to pay a big price for the attacks. In parallel came Pakistan’s warning against India’s surgical strike. Pak authorities blamed that the Indian officials were making irresponsible statements even without initiating any inquiry. The demand Pakistan puts forth is that India should abstain from the attacks across the Line of Control (LoC), while saying that by concealing the human rights violations taking place in Kashmir India raises baseless allegations. Given that Pakistan has never assumed responsibility for even one of the thousands of terror attacks carried out so far, there is nothing surprising in the new statements either.  The Indian army had carried out a surgical strike as a retaliatory measure for the killing of eighteen soldiers in the 2016 Uri terror attack. It is clear that the massive destruction and loss on part of Pakistan due to the attack is what provoked the warning.

The recurrence of terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir proves that the surgical strikes and the counter attacks, however devastating they are, are not sufficient to teach Pakistan a lesson.  According to the statistics, the Indian army has killed 200 extremists in 2017 alone. There is no need to prove anew that the headquarters of terrorist groups such as Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba or Hizbul Mujahideen are located in Pakistan. When India repeatedly pointed out that Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was the mastermind behind the extremely brutal and despicable Mumbai bomb blast series, Pakistan that had either been denying the allegations or displaying a laxity in its stance, was compelled a day ago to declare him as terrorist.  The world should have been convinced that the country’s denials cease to have any value.  As far as we are concerned, the extremely grave issue is the totally turbulent lives of the people in the northern state of J&K.   The people there are leading a miserable life. Chief Minister of the state Mehbooba Mufti who leads the BJP-PDP coalition, had said that ‘the people of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering.  We have to talk because war is not an option’.  The central government should surely absorb the seriousness of what Mufti said. ‘I know I will be labelled anti-national by news anchors but that doesn’t matter’ she said and added that for the bloodshed to end in the state, dialogue with Pakistan should happen.

Mehbooba stresses that the disturbing situation in J&K is not to be merely viewed as a law and order challenge, but an atmosphere has to be created where Kashmiris can move about freely and sleep quietly, and bilateral talks between India and Pakistan should take place that paves way to the end of decades of blood bath.  Even as she says this and given that it is not so easy, the Central Government should recognize that war is not a solution at all to the problem, and peaceful dialogue and communication alone can lead to calm.   True, our national budget for defence has touched 3 lakh crores rupees.  It may also be true that we have a defence capability several times Pakistan's.  But the denouement of a conflict between two nuclear powers being entirely unpredictable, the right wing groups that speak only the language of force and war, should become realistic.   If those who ask people to go to Pakistan at the drop of a hat take crucial decisions of the Modi government,   there is no room for illusion at any time that the mind of the Kashmiris will be with India.   And there is nothing to gain by ignoring the fact that a disturbed and depressed Kashmiri psyche will, more than anything else make the scene conducive for extremists.   The Central Government and those who hold its reins should be prepared to ensure a broad secular democracy ensuring equal rights and security for all religious minorities including that of Kashmir, and at the same time adopt a fundamental stance of peaceful co-existence with neighbouring nations.  Only then will the tears of Kashmir be mitigated.

 

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