What next?
Published on April 19, 2017

The situation is really bad in Kashmir. Irrespective of what the State and the Central governments say, both ground realities as well as their (governmental) actions are an open admission of the volatility of the situation, on which they seem to have no control. After the dreadful day of April 09 when eight civilians fell to the government forces’ bullets during bypolls to Srinagar parliamentary constituency, Central government attempted to ward-off blame by accusing the Election Commission of India (ECI) of not heeding its advisory about the time not being right for the conduct of polls. In response, ECI shifted the blame on the State government saying that it relied on the inputs provided by the local administration. Unnerved by the ECI charge, which was also seconded by the opposition parties here, as well as by the prospect of more violence in its south Kashmir bastion, which has already slipped out of its grab, the government (read ruling PDP) was forced to make a hasty appeal to ECI for postponement of bypolls to Anantnag constituency. Notwithstanding strong opposition from the opposition NC and Congress, ECI obliged the PDP by putting off the bypolls to May 25. But this is not the end of the story. In pleading for deferment of bypolls, the PDP-led State government explicitly admitted its failure to control the situation while the BJP-led Central government (its alliance partner in the State) also put its own weight behind these failures.

Then came the video of a paramilitary CRPF trooper being heckled by a group of Kashmiri youngsters during the poll duty somewhere in Budgam. A very reprehensible act indeed and no sane person could or should condone such behaviour! Although the same video also showed certain other young men intervening and protecting the CRPF man, but first part of the video nevertheless provoked loud outrage throughout the mainland, which saw entire Kashmiri people being named, blamed and demonized. However, when a few hours later another video showed a Kashmiri young man tied to an Army jeep and used as a human-shield with the men in olive-greens using public address systems to blurt out no-nonsense threats to others that similar fate was awaiting them as well, the selectivity of the mainstream outrage was exposed to the hilt. Now the same people and same voices who were all praise for the “courage and restraint” of their “brave-hearts” fell silent; some even going indecent lengths in trying to rationalize it in the name of “protecting the country’s integrity”. Certain other videos followed in quick succession – showing army and paramilitary personnel venting out their blind rage on the people here through brute violence. While one of the videos showed a group of troops using violence to make their victims to shout anti-Pakistan slogans, another showed the militants also using similar tactics against some mainstream political activists to make them say anti-India slogans and announce their parting ways with the political mainstream.

Notwithstanding the motive behind these videos – whether they were circulated just by default or with an eye on some psychological outcome vis-à-vis the recipient population, it goes without saying that they did spell complete lack of the governmental writ on the situation here. All that the government did was that it made some ritual and token noises about investigating these videos and fixing responsibility and punishing the perpetrators. Obviously people here have long ceased to be impressed by tokenism, and as such, their anger and outrage remains far from being quelled!

Now as if this was not enough, police came up with a public advisory for its men in Khaki, advising them to avoid visiting their homes for next few months. This advisory which could have taken to the police personnel through internal departmental mechanisms, was publicized publicly through media. So its net impact has been that besides scaring cops ‘to death’, it has also created a far greater fear psychosis among the general population. If police, which is mandated by its job to protect and secure the general public, can’t secure and protest its own men, one could only imagine its helplessness in securing the life and liberties of the common people. Notwithstanding how those at the helm may explain it, fact of the matter remains that polices’ advisory is public acknowledgement and endorsement of its abject surrender. Period! It is also an attestation of the government’s failure. Period, again!

So where do we go from here? Has anybody any answers?

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