Kashmir: A few encounters in last two months have punctured normalcy balloon

Views from Srinagar

Javaid Malik

THE volatile security situation in Kashmir has become a cause of concern for one and all. The spurt in militant attacks and frequent encounters are giving sleepless nights to security agencies and the government.
Many people fear that nineties like situation may re-emerge and all the efforts which were put during the past 25-years to restore normalcy in the strife torn Jammu and Kashmir seem to be going down the drain.
Attack on the bus of a paramilitary CRPF near Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu highway in which eight CRPF men were killed has created ripples across the Valley. The entire security grid is busy in plugging the loopholes which led to the Pampore attack. Militants opening fire on a CRPF bus with automatic weapons is a grim reminder of nineties like situation, when such attacks used to be the order of the day.
Speculations are rife that paramilitary BSF may replace the CRPF. The CRPF is a police force which has been trained to tackle law and order problems. It lacks training to handle counter insurgency operations independently , while as BSF could prove more effective in handling the militants. When armed rebellion broke out in the Kashmir in 1990, the first step the Centre took was that it replaced the CRPF with BSF. Is it that situation is back to square one and as a first step Delhi would replace CRPF with BSF? Other questions which are looming large over the minds of people are would bunkers come up in Kashmir again? Would crackdowns return?
Rumors about New Delhi planning a major counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir, has pushed people to the edge. A few attacks and encounters in the months of May and June seem to have punctured the normalcy balloon. The Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh has termed the attack on CRPF bus at Pampore as a part of the proxy war and not a law and order problem.
As the security situation in Kashmir is deteriorating, warmongers have upped the ante and they have already started creating war hysteria. The BJP legislators are demanding that Indian should launch a counter offensive and carryout surgical strikes against Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK). Attacking Pakistan and PaK have become hot debates on the TV channels and no stone is being left unturned to push India and Pakistan towards yet another war, may be a decisive one.
As far as Kashmir is concerned, India is not ready to budge from its stand and has openly declared that it’s a settled issue and there is no possibility about Delhi engaging with Islamabad or separatists to hold talks over Kashmir. On the other hand Pakistan seems to be firm on its stand that parleys minus Kashmir won’t serve any purpose. Both the countries claim that dialogue would be held but the leaders of both the nations are shying away from sharing a common table as they have got nothing to offer to each other.
The emerging situation in no way is a “good signal” for Kashmiris. Both the countries fighting a full-fledged war may not be possible as both the countries posses nuclear weapons which can cause mass destruction and war can spill over to other parts. There is every possibility of Delhi using its full force to end the proxy war in Kashmir. History stands testimony to the fact that past 25-years of turmoil have turned Kashmir into a battleground for India and Pakistan. In absence of talks process it seems guns are going to call the shots.
Just a few months ago top Police and Army officials had claimed that militancy in Kashmir is at its lowest ebb and number of militants present in the Valley is not more than 250. It really sounds strange that state needs reinforcements and more forces to tackle 250 militants.
Coming days are going to be tough for Kashmiris, and they should remain prepared to face any sort of situation. Conflict in Jammu and Kashmir is far from over and the militancy of 2016 is emerging as a bigger challenge than nineties. Separatists, who since 2010 have been warning of a “bigger rebellion” breaking out seem to be proving right. On the other hand Delhi looks determined to face any challenge and possibilities about it (Delhi) announcing a truce and finding a middle way out look bleak and blurred. Delhi has already asked the central forces to be prepared. Recent statement of the Defence Minister Manoj Parikkar and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh that forces are free to operate as per their will are an open admission of the fact that voices of dissent in any form have to be suppressed and taken care off.

—Courtesy: GK
[Javaid Malik is Senior Editor Greater Kashmir. [email protected]]

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