By Sunil Dang
In my last editorial, I had warned the government to take befitting action against the terrorists who have made habit of killing Indian soldiers and innocent citizens in the valley. Ironically, government decided to critically condemn the terrorist attack in Kashmir and in mere fortnight, terrorists abducted Indian soldier from his home and send his dead body after brutally assassinating the 22 year old Lieutenant. If we still don’t wake up, then it would send a wrong message to our security system too, which Pakistan would love to see. In actual, these brutal assassinations of the Indian security forces are aimed at confusing the security and armed forces towards their government and break their symmetry. So, before this symmetry is galvanized, we have to stand up and uproot this unholy Pak ploy.
But, for that, we will have to initiate communication with each and every stakeholder in Jammu and Kashmir, which includes separatists too because they are also Indians belonging to J&K. Rather forbidding the separatist leaders to hold talks with Pak establishment, New Delhi should focus on what to talk with the stake holders of J&K. Of course, they can stick to their diplomatic stance of not holding talks with Pakistan but talks with all kinds of stakeholders belonging to J&K must continue. And in this move, there should be political consensus comprising all political parties operating in J&K. Then only, we can have a concrete road map that can lead to successful and inclusive talks with various groups of Pakistan. Making an interlocutor from the valley would also won’t be a bad move as the person would be more known to the nitty-ritty of his or her job.
During my recent trip to Srinagar, I came across an astonishing fact that those holding Pakistani flag, pelting stones on the Indian soldiers, unfurling ISIS flags are ignorant of against whom they are fighting. They also don’t know by whom they want freedom and with whom they want to go. Hence, whole valley is confused and Pakistan has scored over Indian establishment here by cultivating an idea that people pelting stones, sloganeering pro-ISIS and Pak establishment are freedom fighters. In actual, they could do that because Pakistan took advantage of Indian government disrupting talks with the separatist leaders. In this period, Islamabad made inroads into the valley but it can be contained by initiating talks with all stake holders but before that Indian government will have to build a political consensus and a concrete road map.
Ummer Fayaz could have become a poster boy for the Indian army in the valley. He could have bring more youth from the valley into the mainstream cracking the whole euphoria developed by Pakistan and pro-Pakistani leaders.
From the Indian perspective, the dastardly murder of Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz is comparable to two defining moments in Kashmir’s politics: The killing of Ravindra Mhatre in 1984 and abduction of Rubaiya Saeed in 1989. Back then, India reacted differently to the two events that were seen as an attack on India’s sovereignty and pride. After Mhatre, an Indian diplomat in Birmingham, was kidnapped and murdered by the United Kingdom wing of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, the government reacted by executing Maqbool Bhat, whose release, was one of the demands made by the abductors.
Indira Gandhi, who was the then prime minister, not only refused to negotiate with the abductors for the release of Bhat — a co-founder of JKLF — but extracted swift retribution by getting him executed within five days of Mhatre’s murder. The other model was on display when the then VP Singh government, supported by the BJP and the Left, genuflected to Saeed’s abductors from the JKLF. Saeed’s father Mufti Mohammed Saeed, the then home minister who went on to become the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, prevailed on the government to release five militants in exchange for his daughter. One of them was Butt’s brother.
India’s problem is compounded by the fact that the Valley is hurtling towards the dark 90s, when mass protests, violence and targeted killing of policemen and security forces and Kashmiris supporting the Indian state became part of daily life. Since the encounter killing of Burhan Wani, the poster boy of separatists, the Valley has been on the boil, witnessing protests by local youth, support for militants in villages of South Kashmir and targeted attacks on cops, soldiers and bank staff.
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