It is summer and Kashmir is on the boil once again. Three civilian stone pelters were killed and several others injured when they were trying to prevent the security forces from taking on a militant who was holed up in a house on Tuesday. According to CRPF DIG Sanjay Kumar, over 40 jawans were injured in the stone pelting. Around 20 policemen were also injured in the incident on Tuesday. The deaths, however, prompted separatists to call for a day-long strike on Wednesday. They also called for protests on Friday in a joint statement.
The incident on Tuesday and the subsequent protest calls hint the separatists are preparing for another war-like situation that disturbed the Valley last year. Hundreds of civilians and security personnel were injured in protests that erupted after the death of then Hizbul Mujahideen chief Burhan Wani in an encounter last year in July, 2016. Since then, Kashmir has been simmering. Some experts had expected the protests would make a comeback once again with the start of the summer this year.
Here we take a look at what put Kashmir on the boil once again, the politics behind the protests, government’s stand and what may happen next:
- What exactly happened
After receiving information that militant Touseef Ahmad Wagey was hiding in a house in Durbugh, security forces laid a cordon to start a search on Tuesday. During the operation, local residents came out and started hurling stones at policemen who formed the outer cordon. As the clashes intensified during the day, security forces fired pellets and then opened fire, leading to the death of three stone pelters. Several others were injured as well. Army said that one militant was also killed and his body, as well as weapon, recovered, reports The Indian Express.
According to the officials, Wagey was a “Category C” terrorist of Hizbul Mujahideen.
- Who is behind the protests
TV reports have suggested that Pakistan is inciting Kashmiri locals using digital medium like Whatsapp for stone pelting, protests. Separatists are also believed to be getting support from Pakistan.
- Government’s stand
The Indian government’s stand has been clear since the beginning that it will not let terrorists operate freely in Kashmir.
In February this year, new Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat had warned of “tough action” against civilians who would try to come in the way of security forces engaged in an operation against terrorists. His statement came after three jawans were killed when stone pelters gave militants an opportunity to open fire against advancing troopers.
- Politics: Who said what
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called for ending violence, while saying that the state must realize this and accept that only talks are the way forward. “Nothing can be achieved through war and violence. Every year thousands of militants, civilians, security forces and police officials die due to these attacks,” she told media.
Defence expert Uday Bhaskar said, “The Prime Minister Modi-led Government has a very serious challenge. Because after the spectacular victory especially in Uttar Pradesh, I think there is a lot of expectation that certain political initiatives will again be pursued, because the absence of such initiatives, we can see a familiar pattern, will give Pakistan opportunity to go to town and cite this example as a human rights violation.
Kashmiri activist Sushil Pandit said, “Talks of any sort with separatists, the people who believe in violence, who wage war against India, who cause disruption and harm to public property or risk innocent lives, any kind of dialogue or talk with them is now redundant.”
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah told Kashmir Observer: “By choosing to turn a blind eye towards the unprecedented level of alienation and perpetual uncertainty in Kashmir both the Central Government of Narendra Modi and the State Government of Mehbooba Mufti have compounded the situation in the Valley and pushed the youth into a corner.”
What may happen next
If not controlled in time, Tuesday’s incident can worsen the situation in Kashmir, which has been trying to come out of last year’s turmoil. But then, if the protesters don’t stop stone pelting and their representatives don’t agree for peaceful talks with the government, one cannot predict anything that may happen in Kashmir next.
(With ANI inputs)