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July 24, 2016 |

Break the impasse

Kashmir has passed through a gruelling fortnight that left 50 persons dead and around 3000 injured. The cycle of violence that has engulfed the Valley like a fire is coming as a grim reminder of what happened in 2010. Strong protests, staged mostly by young people in the wake of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing, have marked a new phase of unrest which is not about an immediate demand but is focused on addressing the larger political question. Burhan symbolised the sense of despondency and frustration that has been simmering for quite some time and the volcano on which we have been sitting, and at the same time ignoring, has erupted. The State used excessive force, killed and maimed so many. The argument that youth also resorted to violence may be valid but equating that with the state action is not justified. Now 15 days have passed. There is no indication of government ensuring justice to the victims except that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti visited Anantnag and Kupwara to meet the affected families. Kashmir is under indefinite curfew, communication blockade is near complete and every citizen is virtually in prison. On the other hand separatists have also followed their usual path of calling strikes. When they announced relaxation on Thursday it was countered by government with no relaxation in curfew. The result is that entire population is caught in a lockdown. Continued stand-off like this adds to the miseries of people. Now that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is in the town, New Delhi has not even extended the customary empathy over the killings not to speak of a formal political outreach. It is also a fact that separatists, despite their calendars, are not in control of the situation but at the same time their role cannot be ignored. Government must rethink its strategy of caging people and provide a space to all those who can contribute in normalizing the situation. Leaders such as Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik must be set free. Continuing with the curfew and tiring the people out would further compound the situation. People in various areas are suffering on account of shortage of essential commodities and medicines and this cannot go on for long. The responsibility of providing a space for consultation lies with the government. With communication blockade in place even close relatives are not in a position to know about each other’s welfare. Besides the separatists, the civil society will have to play responsible role to avoid a situation that may lead to a point of no return. It must be ensured by government that civilian killings are stopped. They will also have to take responsibility of treating the injured. An inquiry into the excessive use of force is must and the blame cannot be always shifted to “miscreants”. State must act responsibly and infuse confidence of security. All the stakeholders have a challenge to bring the situation to a level where people can feel secure. Wounds are deep and will take time to heal but collective responsibility towards the people should not be wished away to break the impasse.

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July 24, 2016 |

Break the impasse

              

Kashmir has passed through a gruelling fortnight that left 50 persons dead and around 3000 injured. The cycle of violence that has engulfed the Valley like a fire is coming as a grim reminder of what happened in 2010. Strong protests, staged mostly by young people in the wake of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing, have marked a new phase of unrest which is not about an immediate demand but is focused on addressing the larger political question. Burhan symbolised the sense of despondency and frustration that has been simmering for quite some time and the volcano on which we have been sitting, and at the same time ignoring, has erupted. The State used excessive force, killed and maimed so many. The argument that youth also resorted to violence may be valid but equating that with the state action is not justified. Now 15 days have passed. There is no indication of government ensuring justice to the victims except that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti visited Anantnag and Kupwara to meet the affected families. Kashmir is under indefinite curfew, communication blockade is near complete and every citizen is virtually in prison. On the other hand separatists have also followed their usual path of calling strikes. When they announced relaxation on Thursday it was countered by government with no relaxation in curfew. The result is that entire population is caught in a lockdown. Continued stand-off like this adds to the miseries of people. Now that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is in the town, New Delhi has not even extended the customary empathy over the killings not to speak of a formal political outreach. It is also a fact that separatists, despite their calendars, are not in control of the situation but at the same time their role cannot be ignored. Government must rethink its strategy of caging people and provide a space to all those who can contribute in normalizing the situation. Leaders such as Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik must be set free. Continuing with the curfew and tiring the people out would further compound the situation. People in various areas are suffering on account of shortage of essential commodities and medicines and this cannot go on for long. The responsibility of providing a space for consultation lies with the government. With communication blockade in place even close relatives are not in a position to know about each other’s welfare. Besides the separatists, the civil society will have to play responsible role to avoid a situation that may lead to a point of no return. It must be ensured by government that civilian killings are stopped. They will also have to take responsibility of treating the injured. An inquiry into the excessive use of force is must and the blame cannot be always shifted to “miscreants”. State must act responsibly and infuse confidence of security. All the stakeholders have a challenge to bring the situation to a level where people can feel secure. Wounds are deep and will take time to heal but collective responsibility towards the people should not be wished away to break the impasse.

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