On the 51st day of externally instigated rioting in the Kashmir Valley, curfew was partially lifted, but the flare-ups have continued. When the All Party Delegation visited Srinagar, protests continued across Kashmir. Over 250 people have been injured in the clashes in several parts of Kashmir.
Seventy people were reported dead and thousands injured as on September 2 since the violence started following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. Since July 8, there have been 22 attacks including one on the Army, 16 on Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Police and five on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
There have been 48 incidents, including 41 attacks on police stations (burnt or ransacked), one on the Army, three on CRPF and three against J&K Police. Senior CRPF sources disclosed that from July 8 to August 31 there have been 872 incidents of stone-pelting which wounded 2,094 CRPF personnel.
Apart from the much mentioned shotgun short-range cartridge, the CRPF had to resort to use plastic and rubber pellets as well as tear-smoke shells and tear-smoke grenades, many of which were picked quickly and lobbed back by mobsters at the CRPF personnel.
Of the casualties mentioned, 122 were grievously injured.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been trying hard to change the political discourse. Since she first lashed out at the separatists on May 31, she has made many statements on the general theme of instigation of the public.
On August 22, she said that the Kashmir unrest was ‘pre-planned’ and only handful were involved in keeping the Valley on the boil. 95 percent people were peace-loving and children were being used as a shield by “vested interests” while attacking camps and posts of the security forces.
As a result, innocent kids have become casualties. She also conveyed a message to those raising “pro-azadi” slogans that they should see the condition of Muslims in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Syria, Turkey and Afghanistan even though these nations have “freedom”.
On August 27, she said that the situation in Kashmir has been bad since 2008. “The UPA government had ignored the situation after the 2008 unrest. PM Modi is trying to resolve the situation,” she said.
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for taking initiatives to start a dialogue with Pakistan, she said, “PM Modi reached out to Pakistan, went to Lahore, but then Pathankot happened. Home Minister Rajnath Singh also went to Islamabad. Unfortunately, Pakistan has repeatedly given up chances to talk and resolve the issue of violence in Kashmir.”
“As a mother, I am pained to see that kids are being told to go out and stone police stations. Will stone-pelting solve the issue?” She added, recalling that she had urged the separatists to come and talk but there has been no response.
All Party Hurriyat Conference-Geelani (APHC-G) chairman S.A.S. Geelani on the other hand said that Mufti had “lost her mental balance after gaining power”.
On July 16, Geelani wrote a letter to several international bodies and heads of state in several countries outlining six measures that the Indian Government should take for return of normalcy in the valley: acceptance of Kashmir’s disputed status along with right to self-determination, demilitarization of the valley, repealing of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act, release of all political prisoners in Kashmir along with restoration of their right to political activity, allowance to all international human rights and humanitarian organisations for working in the state and ensuring “free political space” to all parties in the state.
On August 23, APHC-M chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq sent a letter to Pope Francis, Dalai Lama , Imam Kaba, Shankrachrya and ambassadors of various countries in New Delhi, UN, EU and OIC on the situation in J&K, peppered with some lies and twisted facts.
His statement was, “Hurriyat is the leadership of Kashmir and there should be an unconditional dialogue … the precondition of ‘within the ambit of the Indian Constitution’ will not lead to a solution.”
When the all-party delegation members Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Yadav, Assadudin Owaisi, D. Raja, Rajgopal Narayan and Fayaz Mir arrived at Geelani’s Hyderpora residence where he is “house-detained”, he refused to open the door and a group of people appeared at the site yelling slogans like “Go India, Go Back” and “We want freedom.”
The MPs feeling embarrassed rushed into their bulletproof vehicles, which had to move slowly as these protesters walked in front of them. Hurriyat (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, under detention at Chashmashahi sub jail, refused to talk to Assadudin Owaisi, who came out within a minute or two.
Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Yadav and the other two members of the delegation reached Humhama sub jail to meet JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik and DFP chief Shabir Shah. But Malik refused to talk to them.
A member of the all-party delegation said it was in their “personal capacity” that these six MPs tried to meet the separatists as the state and central governments did not have any meeting with separatists in their agenda and neither had the six MPs discussed any such intention with the rest of the delegation.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is reportedly examining about 22 bank accounts in south Kashmir that received unaccounted money and had withdrawals coinciding with the current unrest in the valley to probe into possible links of the account holders with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) or its cadres, Kashmiri separatists and terror financiers based in Pakistan.
Central agencies have reportedly identified 400 local leaders fuelling protests and shared their names with the state police for an immediate crackdown, including detention under the Public Safety Act.
Intelligence officials said the list included over-ground workers of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and other terrorist outfits besides local-level functionaries of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH), the APHC-G and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI).
“Separatists” is too mild a term for referring to outright traitors and in fact agents of Pakistan, who have for at least three decades been receiving large undisclosed amounts of funds from Pakistan for motivating/recruiting Kashmiri youth to join Pakistan-supported terrorist groups, purging Kashmir valley of over 4,00,000 Kashmiri Pandits, organizing protests/breakdowns/‘bandhs’/closure of schools /inflammatory seditious speeches at mosques/waving of Pakistani flags/aiding and abetting Pakistani terrorists for attacks or by having them sheltered In recent years, they have ensured for their Pakistani mentors that Kashmir valley remains on the boil, prevent progress and prosperity of good tourist seasons or allowing entrepreneurs from establishing businesses to benefit Kashmiris and radicalizing public.
Yet, ironically, they enjoy various benefits from the government and house arrests/detentions have not prevented them from issuing various calls for bandhs/shutdowns paralyzing life in the valley.
Even at the cost of being repetitive, it is reiterated that no talks or peace measures in Kashmir will succeed until the separatists and their entire network are removed. [The views expressed in the above article are of defence analyst Lt Col (Retd.) Anil Bhat].