Kind­ness At whAt price?

The Sunday Guardian - - World -

Jammu and Kash­mir Chief Min­is­ter is a kind lady. There is no rea­son to doubt her ex­pres­sion of sor­row at the death of a 22-year-old young man from Chen­nai, R. Thiru­mani Sel­van, at the hands of stone-pelt­ing ter­ror­ists in the val­ley on Mon­day. She is re­morse­ful and says that she is ashamed at the heart-break­ing in­ci­dent. It is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter though that this kind­ness leads the Chief Min­is­ter to be­lieve that the per­pe­tra­tors are mis­guided youth who will un­dergo a change of heart if—as she tweeted—“a sus­tained, mean­ing­ful di­a­logue and out­reach” is ini­ti­ated, not just by the gov­ern­ment but by the en­tire coun­try. It is in this same vein that she wants a ces­sa­tion of ac­tion by the se­cu­rity forces dur­ing the month of Ramzan against in­im­i­cal el­e­ments in the val­ley. It was pre­sum­ably this same kind­ness that also guided her to give amnesty to over 9,000 stone-pel­ters who were in jail for crimes in­clud­ing caus­ing se­ri­ous bod­ily harm to the se­cu­rity forces. But then, of what use is such kind­ness when faced with may­hem?

The truth is, these young men are fa­cil­i­tat­ing ji­hadis, who reg­u­larly un­leash vi­o­lence on not only the se­cu­rity forces but also on fel­low Kash­miris, as was ev­i­dent from the re­cent stone pelt­ing of a school bus that in­jured Kash­miri chil­dren. They are street hood­lums, who are also over-ground work­ers of ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions. They are sup­port­ers of the dreaded ISIS and are im­bued with Wah­habi ide­ol­ogy. It was in keep­ing with this ide­ol­ogy that they bru­tally killed a Kash­miri po­lice of­fi­cer, Mo­hammed Ayub Pan­dith, by in­flict­ing the most beastly tor­ture on him—tor­ture that they would in­flict on other se­cu­rity per­son­nel as well if they got the slight­est chance. It is these youths who give cover to mur­der­ous ter­ror­ists dur­ing gun­fights with the se­cu­rity forces. There is the pos­si­bil­ity that some of those whom Me­hbooba Mufti re­leased from prison were part of the gang that killed the in­no­cent Thiru­mani. A gov­ern­ment or a coun­try can­not af­ford to try and cos­set the angst of hard­ened crim­i­nals. To talk about di­a­logue and out­reach not only be­trays weak­ness on the part of Me­hbooba Mufti, but also comes across as an ap­par­ent at­tempt to jus­tify their crimes. They have gone too far down the path of vi­o­lence for them to re­alise what is right or wrong. They have un­wisely re­sponded to their Pak­istani-funded ji­hadi pay­mas­ters and are im­mune to any out­reach. In­stead, they must be dealt with an iron hand, for they have com­mit­ted too many crimes.

If there has to be “out­reach”, it is Chief Min­is­ter Me­hbooba Mufti who should be ask­ing the fam­i­lies of these crim­i­nal el­e­ments to rein in their chil­dren, for they are hurt­ing Kash­mir’s in­ter­ests. De­stroy­ing the tourism in­dus­try, which is the main rev­enue gen­er­a­tor for the state, is not go­ing to hurt the rest of In­dia or give Kash­mir azaadi. But it will pau­perise the val­ley. It is time for the CM to dis­abuse these youths and other such peo­ple of the no­tion that Kash­mir will get azaadi. In fact the sep­a­ratist el­e­ments try­ing to drive the Kash­mir agenda at the bid­ding of Pak­istan need to be told in no un­cer­tain terms that In­dia is too im­por­tant a na­tion glob­ally for any coun­try to push the cause of azaadi. The se­cu­rity forces may take oc­ca­sional hits in Kash­mir, but the In­dian Union is too pow­er­ful for it to be dis­lodged from Kash­mir by Pak­istan’s prox­ies.

Most Kash­miris want to lead their lives like any other In­dian, in peace and pros­per­ity, and as an in­te­gral part of the In­dian Union. This is ap­par­ent from the way Kash­miri par­tic­i­pa­tion has been in­creas­ing in the civil ser­vices ex­am­i­na­tions, or from the way many are leav­ing the val­ley to pur­sue ed­u­ca­tion or a ca­reer in other parts of the coun­try. The J&K Chief Min­is­ter needs to re­alise that a hand­ful of rad­i­cals can­not be al­lowed to dic­tate the nar­ra­tive or be shown as rep­re­sen­ta­tive sen­ti­ment. So the ques­tion of mol­ly­cod­dling such el­e­ments does not arise. In­stead, the CM needs to take back con­trol of Kash­mir’s streets, tell her po­lice not to be by­standers, and de-rad­i­calise the mosques that are dis­sem­i­nat­ing anti In­dia pro­pa­ganda day in and day out, among other things. Play­ing foot­sie with rad­i­cal el­e­ments, while mouthing plat­i­tudes about di­a­logue and peace will re­sult in her gov­ern­ment hit­ting the dead end sooner than later, apart from light­ing an­other fire in the val­ley.

In this, the Bharatiya Janata Party must be held ac­count­able for its in­abil­ity to put a check on its ally Mufti’s ten­dency to turn a blind and benev­o­lent eye on the ac­tiv­i­ties of Kash­mir’s agents of doom. Is the thirst of power so great that it should let the CM have a free run with poli­cies such as amnesty to proved trou­ble-mak­ers, lest try­ing to rein her in re­sults in the fall of the gov­ern­ment?

As for the lat­est de­mand for ces­sa­tion of hos­til­i­ties, can the PDP and its al­liance part­ner, the BJP en­sure that the rad­i­cal el­e­ments will not at­tack the se­cu­rity forces if the lat­ter are asked to de­clare a “cease­fire” dur­ing the pe­riod of Ramzan? What is the guar­an­tee that this pe­riod of peace will not be used by el­e­ments hos­tile to In­dia’s in­ter­ests to re­vive them­selves af­ter the im­mense hit they took be­cause of Army ac­tion in the last one year? Talk­ing about di­a­logue is fine, but the sit­u­a­tion on the ground has to be right for di­a­logue, which is not the case at present.

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