Home » POV » Burning Kashmir: we need to make a fresh start

Burning Kashmir: we need to make a fresh start

Arun Chaudhary | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST
Story so far
  • About 45 have been left dead and several others injured in the recent spate of violence in Kashmir
  • The worst injuries are made by the pellet guns that the security forces used
  • Security forces are working hard to contain the situation
What the state did wrong
  • The CM was absent during the first 48 hours after violence broke out
  • The hospital and dispensaries are also not equipped to deal with mounting injuries
More in the story
  • How the government should deal with this situation now
  • Why the security forces should never let down their guard

The aftermath of Burhan Wani's encounter has left a trail of 45 dead, including a police officer. Hundreds have been left injured over the last few days of unprecedented violence in the Valley.

The most publicised of all injuries are those caused by pellet guns to the eyes of young boys and girls. These civilians were either part of the mob attacking the security forces or bystanders.

Security forces trying to 'contain' the situation used pellet guns to disperse violent mobs. These pellets hit those in the stone-pelting mob, but it also hit many who were in close proximity to the action.

While most injuries turned out to be quite bad, the pellet injuries to the eyes were worse. It has left many blind and many others who may never get their normal vision back.

But who is responsible for the escalating situation in the Valley?

South Kashmir, especially in areas like Pulwama, Tral, Bijbehara and Anantnag violent mobs have continued to attack police posts and stations. In such situations, the security forces (SF) are left with no alternative but to use force.

The SFs are trained to use minimum force on civilians but in many instances, seeing injuries on their fellow men, they upped the ante.

A person who has witnessed such situations can validate the actions of the SFs when death stares into their eyes.

Looking back

In hindsight, however, it can be said the handling of the situation by the security forces, especially the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the state police, lacked preparation as they did not anticipate the aftermath of Burhan Wani's death correctly.

Wani was not just any other Hizbul Mujahideen militant. He was the poster boy for young Kashmiris in the Valley.

The intelligence also failed to track the slow growth of Wani's popularity which snowballed into major violence, post his funeral.

Burhan Wani was a social media-savvy local militant who liked to address young Kashmiris in order to motivate them to take up guns against security forces. His group was responsible for major terrorist acts against SFs last year in South Kashmir.

But these things are taking the back seat during discussions on the Kashmir situation. Once you unleash and romanticise violence, it endangers those unconnected to the situation to become targets when the state retaliates to maintain law and order.

What is the government doing?

The administrative response of the government in the current situation should have sent strong signals to the militant groups and the mobs.

But reactions have been rather mute and discouraging. The chief minister was absent in the first 48 hours when South Kashmir burnt, which gave the impression that the state was drifting.

Hospitals and dispensaries were not adequately equipped to deal with the rising number of causalities or offer the 'healing touch' People's Democratic Party is known for.

Public representatives of the state, who could assuage the injured feelings of the people, were conspicuously absent from the scene.

State of constant stir

Kashmir is no stranger to such wide-scale disturbances. Be it the aftermath of senior secessionist leader Sheikh Aziz's death in 2008 or the stone-pelting mobs of young boys in Srinagar and South Kashmir during 2008 and 2010.

The forces and their responses to sudden spurts in violence should be a continuing process. They need not at any time drop their guard and become casual and callous, which seems to be the case observed during these recent disturbances.

The Valley is gradually limping back to normalcy and the Amarnath Yatra has started. But utmost vigil is necessary to deal with the young, tech-savvy militants who need to be acted upon quickly and inducted into the mainstream.

The escalation of violence in Kashmir may not be a direct fall-out of international terrorist violence being unleashed by ISIS in Orlando, France, Brussels or Turkey. But it has certainly prepared and provided impetus to a group of young, educated, romanticised boys, who are out to prove that the Kashmiris have been wronged.

In the present series of incidents, the handling of the law-and-order situation by the administration has been delayed and sluggish.

Efforts should be made to address genuine concerns that are plaguing the Valley and also make sure that the injured are treated better.

Blaming Pakistan for everything which is happening in Kashmir is not the correct way to convince our own people.

We need to see within and make a fresh start. We must begin talking to everyone who is a stakeholder in this conflict.

The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the organisation.

The author is a former Director General of Police, who worked in the Intelligence Bureau and handled Kashmir for many years.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

Also Read: Kashmir unrest: Grenade attack at police station in Kulgam injures 5 officers

Also Read: Today's Nero plays drums: How Delhi failed Kashmir, yet again

Also Read: Kashmir turmoil in pictures: Protests and bandh keep the valley tense

Also Read: Kashmir on the boil: 10 killed in protests, lakhs attend Burhan's funeral

Also Read: Fearing 'anti-national' tag, Congress takes tough line on Kashmir

Also Read: Monsoon Session kicks off: Opposition unites to slam Centre on Kashmir unrest

Also Read: Govt's best laid plans fail: Kashmir situation worsens, toll rises to 41

Also Read: Undeclared emergency in Kashmir: police seize newspapers, gag media

First published: 19 July 2016, 2:44 IST
Arun Chaudhary

Arun is a former Director General of Police, who worked in the Intelligence Bureau and handled Kashmir for many years.