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Endangered Peace In Jammu &Kashmir

By Adfar Shah

13 August, 2013

Tweeting on everything now is a new mania in Kashmir and has turned to a symbol of VIP-ism now. However a day before Eid (Eid al-Fitr also called Feast of Breaking the Fast), one of my friends rightly tweeted that ‘Eid is the only time Muslims are officially happy' . She is right because who can be happy when one witnesses violence, insecurity, chaos and strikes day in and day out . The happiness of Kashmiris is a mere showoff now because everyone lives in constant fear and chaos. From Ramban to Sumbal episode (the recent crisis mishandling by security forces and killing of protesting civilians) to the dismay of Kashmir , the peace deficit and state's illusion of normalcy amid the continuing strikes and bloodshed has disturbed the common man.

This Eid was observed again not like a holy festive occasion but as simply as yet another day of clashes, stone pelting, police bashing and slogans as usual. The new issue in the chain of issues is Kishtawar and the problem is communal tension and high handedness of VDC's (village defence committees) this time. Who are after this blatant violence and what actually happened that triggered so much of the communal violence killing three people or what has been done in reality is not exactly still known but given a general label of communal tension among the Hindus and Muslims.(Who knows?)

The continuing incidents of violence reflect the endangered peace in Jammu and Kashmir . The fact remains that this year proving much violent and started with Afzal Guru's hasty execution in Tihar Jail followed by the months of strikes and clashes, government's lack of crisis management, police's crisis mishandling and suppression of the common man on routine basis.

This goes without saying that trust deficit has deepened among the masses(despite efforts of peace mongers like Gen Ata Hasnain, S.M Sahai,former I.G and few others), to such an extent after the heart wrenching Shopian double rape and murder case, infamous Dardpora or Machil incidents, nameless mass graves, Afzal hanging (satisfying the collective consciousness), Ramban killings, Sumbal killings and now Kishtiwar like communal incidents and certain other sensitive brutalities and futile inquiries afterwards have further added to the chaos and alienation of the innocent masses. This goes without saying that amid this all continuing chaos, both the Centre and the state have not shown much maturity in dealing with the continuous incidents of violence and bloodshed. People protest and die and the routine continues. Kashmir is truly a peace fragile zone because right from the hostility at LoC (Poonch killings by Pak Army) to the disturbance in Srinagar, Kishtiwar, Jammu and other areas, one thing is common and that is uncernity about peace and the return of normalcy. Another new nuisance is VDC's (state government's new frustration) that have been much criticized and people have been demanding of disbanding these groups but till date no attention paid actually.

After the recent Ramban crisis and at such a doubtful juncture, certain things strike one's mind like ; Are the very shameful acts of communalism and killings been done simply to disrupt the state's peace again to start yet another unrest? Or is it a tactic to give set back to the peace mongers and their work or hitting the flourishing tourism sector and smoothly continuing Yatra in the State especially in the valley. Or are the brutal crimes been committed to create communal tendencies and sectarian tensions to push the valley again to sadistic times. It is also apprehended, whether is it an act of the enemies peace or some preplanned conspiracy to keep the instability alive and let whole state get caught in chaos. In short the questions are numberless but till date without any immediate or satisfying answers. However the fact remains that, it has once again revived the infamous Kanneh-Jung (stone pelting), bashing by and attacking of security personnel, City siege, prolonged curfews, movement restrictions, confrontations with local police and other security agencies, prevailing chaos, etc, which has now become a culture and almost a life style in this part of the world.

This time the area of Kishtiwar/Jammu is under heavy deployment of security forces, mainly to check any untoward incident and prevent any protests. The fact is, the security in such situations is very vulnerable and to cope up to the immense pressure, is really a big deal. On one hand, the pressure and challenge of maintaining calm while on the other doing nothing violent or either defensive/repressive to maintain that calm. The fact remains that uncertain times and unprecedented incidents have been giving a tough time to the security agencies in Kashmir , the peace fragile zone where even an altercation between a local and a non-local can lead to a big mess and to a prolonged unrest as well. Kashmir has been through a violent phase from the mid-eighties when the armed struggle started and changed various colours of turbulence till date. However, one thing that remained constant and certain is the uncertainty over here. The uncertainty about peace and more importantly about the return of peace, about life and livelihood, etc,. One more thing which has had the upper hand in all circumstances is the prevailing fear among the masses, the fear of everyone. Furthermore, a created hiatus between the different religious communities of the valley be that Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs, Muslims or others and more importantly now the emergence of a plethora of sects followed by sectarian hatred is the real matter of concern which has till date not been addressed at any level by any one. Also now the Chenab valley is hit by violence and is kept disturbed by the enemies of peace.

It would be, however, pertinent to know whether the government's announced high level probe of the Kishtiwar incident breaks some ice or it leads to further dismay and confrontation among the masses and the rulers further. The fact remains that public has never been happy with the plethora of probes carried out in so many incidents of human rights violation. Masses aspire of practical delivery of justice on the ground rather than mere paper work. More importantly government need to deal seriously with the new nuisance, that is, VDC's.

The need of the hour is efficient policing and efficient civil administration in the holistic state to manufacture peace with active efforts and work at grass roots to address people's alienation. However the fact remains that people aspirations have hardly been respected so far and alienation of Kashmiri Awaam is increasing day by day.It remains to be analysed what actually is going wrong with the peacemaking efforts and what exactly makes violence to prevail despite efforts to make peace. It seems clear that vested interests are spoiling the paradise on earth and earning blood money. Amid the plethora of security agencies, unprofessional police, unknown gunmen and rumour mills, uncertainty and chaos, everyone feels insecure and fed up. The rulers must realize that it is not a time to play with Blackberry phones or go for tweets all the time but realize the people's frustration, oppression and helplessness.

Lamenting the beautiful Valley's plight and prolonged oppression, Allama Iqbal rightly said;

“Aaj Woh Kashmir Hai Mehkoom-O-Majboor-O-Faqeer
Kal Jise Ahl-E-Nazar Kehte Thay Iran-E-Sagheer”.

(Today that  land  of  Kashmir , under the heels of the enemy, has become weak, helpless and poor
Once known among the wise as Little Iran).

( Adfar Shah, a New Delhi Based Kashmiri Sociologist belongs to Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women Studies (SNCWS) at Jamia Millia Islamia, Central University New Delhi. The views expressed by author are personal. Mail atadfer.syed@gmail.com ).





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