Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Srinagar simmers, South Kashmir boils, government plays the waiting game


By Ajai Shukla
Srinagar
Business Standard, 2nd August 16

Three weeks after idolised Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Burhan Wani, was killed by the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Police in an encounter near Anantnag in southern Kashmir, the valley continues to seethe. In Srinagar, extended curfews have failed to end furious stone pelting by violent mobs.

I visit the city’s so-called Downtown area at 6 p.m. in the evening, after hearing that curfew would be briefly lifted at 6.30 p.m. This locality has long been the stronghold of the Mirwaiz of Kashmir, currently the soft-spoken Omar Farooq, whose Awami Action Committee anchors the separatist Hurriyat Conference. But the Mirwaiz, like other Hurriyat leaders, counts for little now. Separatist leadership is now in the hands of fresh-faced Kashmir youths, some as young as 16, who are following their impulses without coordination or thought.

Bearing the brunt of their blind anger against any manifestation of the Indian state is a mixed posse of J&K Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, who have spent the day on “curfew enforcement”; strung out across the locality in small, exposed groups of 3-4 troopers. At 6.15 p.m., I join them as they reel in towards a central collection point. On their heels follow the “stone pelters” --- official terminology in the J&K security establishment.

The daily confrontation that follows bears an indescribable fury. Running out from homes and alleyways, the youngsters use slingshots and their bare arms to hurl large stones that ricochet off protected vehicles and bounce dangerously off the street. The police are under strict instructions to moderate their response; no agitator should be killed or badly injured --- an eventuality that could trigger stepped up violence. Under pressure from the advancing mob, the troopers fire teargas to push back the darting youths. The 12-guage shotguns are loaded, but held in reserve in case the troopers are getting swamped. After what seems like a lifetime, the police withdraw into heavily guarded police stations, ceding the space outside to the mob.

This frightening contest takes place each time curfew is lifted. I ask Inspector Javed Bhat (name changed to protect his identity), who has just overseen this withdrawal, how everyone handles the danger. “We let them vent their anger. As long as no agitator is injured, we consider it a job well done”, he says grimly.

This sums up the strategy for calming down the valley after 55 Kashmiri deaths and some 2,000 injuries, including 300 that required hospitalization. Many of these took place when rampaging mobs were about to overrun police stations and outposts. With panic-stricken troopers firing shotguns at point blank ranges, the 450 pellets in each cartridge blinded many agitators, stoking anger further.

Yet Srinagar represents the good news for the administration. In parts of South Kashmir, especially in Pulwama district, the government’s writ has effectively ceased to run. The locals have begun calling Pulwama a “liberated zone”. Shuja’at Bukhari, editor of the valley’s second-biggest English daily, Rising Kashmir, described a procession of 30,000 locals on Sunday, screaming for “azaadi” (freedom) at the local “martyr’s graveyard”. That protest featured several armed militants, including Abu Dujana, the local Lashkar-e-Toiba commander who hails from Pakistan. On Monday, it was the turn of Shopian, where 10,000 people came out in protest.

South Kashmir was the stamping ground of Burhan Wani, who was less a conventional gun-wielding militant than a social media celebrity, with his videos urging Kashmiris to join the Hizbul Mujahideen. Says a senior police officer: “Without firing a shot, Burhan became more dangerous than other militants.”

So furious was the reaction to his killing, that mobs in South Kashmir burnt three police stations to the ground --- Damhal Khushipora, Damhal Hanjipora and Kokernag. Police posts were torched in Soibugh and Sopore Fruit Mandi. The J&K Police’s “Special Operations Group” (SOG), the unit that actually shot down Burhan Wani, paid an especially heavy price: four SOG camps were set ablaze --- Litter, Rohmu, Lassipora and Hasanpora Bijbehara.

With the protests spiraling out of control, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti turned to vehemently anti-India leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, asking him to rein in the mobs. Geelani, worried at the anarchy, obliged, appealing to the mobs on June 10 not to damage police stations and ambulances “as it can be an excuse for the government to prove it is not guilty.”

Asked whether there is a strategy to regain control, Suhail Bukhari, the J&K government’s media consultant said: “We are avoiding a vicious cycle of violence where each death leads to another, and further inflames the situation.”

While Mehbooba Mufti has launched an outreach programme to visit the families of locals killed, there is eerie silence from New Delhi. Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Kashmir a week ago, but the prime minister has remained silent.

For a valley on the boil, this is further proof that New Delhi simply does not care. There was little love for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, under which the valley experienced three successive summers of turmoil: in 2008, over the proposal to acquire land for the Amarnath Yatra; in 2009, over the deaths of two women in Shopian; and in 2010 over the killings of civilians in Machhil in a fake encounter. Now, there is even greater resentment at the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, with Kashmiris deeply resenting issues like the beef ban, the Dadri lynching, and a series of local controversies that are perceived as an assault on the Kashmiri identity --- not least the apprehension that New Delhi intends to change the valley’s demographic profile by establishing “Pandit colonies” and “Sainik colonies”.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

nehru's pampered lot... should know... they are conquered...

Sheshank Kaul said...

Dear Sir,

I am an avid reader of your blog... and also a Kashmiri pandit whose family was driven out of the Valley literally at gun point, I find it difficult to sympathise with the so called stone pelters. I appreciate the effort taken by the media to present a balanced coverage of the latest series of events. However, I fail to understand why the events of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2015/16 are clubbed together and not discussed in detail. These are the real reasons why problems continue to fester. Accussed of in 2009 and 2010 incidents what happened to them, have the investigations not been completed, prosecuted, sentenced? But then again where in India is a criminal investigation closed and the accused prosecuted in 8 years time? As for the 2008 the local opposition against land acquisition was led by Sr. Mufit & Co. and in the case of 2015/16 the opposition was led by Mr Abdullaha & Co. Ofcourse Delhi could've done a lot more to reduce tensions, but Srinagar is seeing the results of the same bi-partisan politics which the whole of the country is suffering from. (Albeit with deadlier consequences). I would much appreciate your comments

pseudo sicular said...

peletize these ethnic cleansing cruel community that decimated half a million pandits in the valley.....

Anonymous said...

Kashmiris chased out Hindus from the valley. They have effectively shut down the industries. Jobless & With insistence on outmoded article 370 based kashmiriyat( instead on insaniyat) they are biting the hand that feeds them.

I think we as Indians should not tolerate such behaviour any longer. They should join the mainstream & be a part of the indian dream.


By the way please Carry article on Pakistan flag burning , protests against Chinese in PoK, too. Then another one on trauma Kashmiri pundits are undergoing .

Anonymous said...

really...who cares ??!!!

pause a minute said...

I fully agree. Delhi does not care. It is moving in some orbit which has no connection with us and the issues that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Mann ki baat is fine but first reach out to those families that are reeling under the trauma of rape, those who are not able to have even one meal a day, the homeless and the destitute, the parents who have lost their children in the senselessness of fighting, the horrors that intolerance is unleashing, the ignorance that is skewering people's faith, the young who have no education, the young adults who have no jobs.....digitalization will happen in due time....we are hurting now....

Deshdaaz said...

"Pandit Colonies" and "Sainik Colonies".... Do you any substantial information to back the claim?

Deshdaaz said...

"With the protests spiraling out of control, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti turned to vehemently anti-India leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, asking him to rein in the mobs. "


Wow! What kind of helpless, thoughtless and brainless Chief Minister resort to a traitor to get situation under control. Clue : It's a Kashmiri woman.

Kashmir is not as insurmountable problem as it is made out to be by successive central governments. It was hope of many(including myself) that NAMO govt will act differently (read sternly).

I am with central govt's approach so far. Why should anyone (central or local) govt reach out to family of deceased? An educated Kashmiri 'retard' decided to risk his life (and the consequences to his family if he gets killed) by actively partaking in the 'stone pelting' game. And unfortunately paid the ultimate price for it. So be it. Who is to blame? Let me give proper analogy for the scenario. Here in the West, if a moron playing 'Pokeman Go' on the street steps 'in to' oncoming traffic and gets killed, who is to be blamed? The car driver? Does the deceased deserve sympathy of the public? NO. The idiot not only was risking his own life but lives of others.

55 deaths will not instill fear in the minds of the anti-India bastards. Kill a few hundreds and help them understand ONCE FOR ALL, This is INDIA. Live peacefully,happily and prosper. OR GET LOST to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi, Somalia wherever the F*** they wanna go. I bet none of these nations will grant visa to such terrorists living in disguise as Indian citizens. ARE WE CLEAR?

Anonymous said...

NSR says ---

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From Huffington Post...

Last week, Kashmiri pandits carried out a protest, demanding evacuation from their transit camps in the Kashmir Valley, Press Trust of India reported.

It is estimated that around 57,000 families mostly Kashmiri Pandits left Kashmir in the wake of the militancy which intensified in the 1990s. According to official figures, there are presently around 60,452 registered Kashmiri migrant families in the country, with 38,119 families residing in Jammu and 19,338 families living in Delhi..

Sushma, who returned to the Valley after her parents left in the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s, told The Indian Express that she and her family has been targeted ever since they came back in 2010, and they finally decided to leave after a mob tried to storm their camp and threw petrol bombs, which injured her two-year-old son.

"Ever since we returned, we were targeted with stone-pelting, whenever Pakistan won or lost a cricket match, or during a Hindu festival like Diwali," she told the newspaper...

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Probably this would give you an idea about systemic ethnic cleansing to make Kashmir complete Muslim land....
Does it bother you or anyone....

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I say ---

It is high time to abolish/abrogate/delete Article 370 from Constitution and make Jammu & Kashmir full state of India...
This will make movement of people, jobs and development projects and break the stranglehold of separatists...

India must immediately settle displaced Hindus, Sikhs, Gujjars, Christians, etc and also post-independence POK refugees...

Kailash Manasarovar to Kanyakumari was Bharat, India, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, etc

There were never any Muslims until they invaded and stolen our mothers and sisters to propagate their religion...

Just because they are in majority because of ethnic cleansing in Kashmir, India must not yield and give in to their demands...
If it does, then it would happen all over India...

India must stay united...Country comes before religion...or else there would be no place for Indians to hang their hat...

Colnel Sahib - where would non-Muslims of India go if every enclave with Muslim majority want to secede like this...
Arabian sea and Bay of Bengal?

That stupid P Chidambaram is advocating plebiscite when the Pakistani Ambassador to USA is advocating the econcept of keeping what we have and they have and move on...He says even during Ayub times plebiscite did not happen and it would not happen now...

Once India yields then it becomes an avalanche...



Alok Asthana said...

I think the insight lies not in the post but in a comment on it, that 'they are conquered'. The Kashmir valley is practically lost to India. This is mere occupation. Democratic governments do not run like this. CRPF is at the receiving end for no fault of theirs. I am shocked that they are accepting such nonsense. What a country in which you are allowed to throw stones at a trooper, who is ordered by the state to not retaliate. He, too, is someone's son. Govt is taking advantage of the fact that poverty levels compel people to still take up such jobs. But that is exploitation. Why doesn't BJP deploy its own sainiks, the ones that are the most patriotic in the country and keep themselves busy by beating up others all over India. RSS guys, with their dandas, should volunteer, In any case, all they have to do is to go there and bear being stoned. No military/specialised training is required, in any case.

Dikshant Sahu said...

This time their agitation is supported by focused anti-India campaign in social media and by some of our main stream media outlets purely biased on showing just the damage that pellet guns do and not the other aspect as to why they are being resorted to....The thing that i don't understand is why our establishment is not launching their own focused information war and social media campaign against these "SOCIAL INFILTRATION" by terrorists who are taking kashmir apart and paving way for Fundamentalist Islam to hijack the real issue.