COURSE CORRECTION IS NECESSARY
On a day when electronic voting machines were being opened to count votes cast in the historic blood-drenched by-poll of April 9, the macabre dance of death, destruction and humiliation did not show any let up.
While the counting was going on in Srinagar, scores of youngsters were engaged in a pitched battle with the government forces in and outside the premises of a degree college in south Kashmir’s Pulwama town. The reason for the street battle was the ominous presence of a posse of uniformed personnel in the vicinity of the educational institution that boasts thousands of students on its rolls.
The main cause of the students’ outrage has been the unwarranted arrival and presence of uniformed personnel often in and around the college campus. Dozens of ambulances were pressed into service to escort the wounded students and civilians to hospitals in Srinagar.
As if it was not enough, the day concluded on a more terrible note. At Batamaloo in the heart of Srinagar, the government forces allegedly shot dead a youngster causing more consternation in the entire area. The circumstances that led to the gruesome incident are not exactly known. The heart-wrenching fact is that another youngster lost his life in most unfortunate circumstances.
These incidents have taken place when the atmosphere is already charged up in entire Kashmir in the aftermath of the killing of eight youngsters on the polling day. It seems the counter-insurgency grid in Kashmir is clueless on handling the law and order situation in such a scenario.
Ideally, the law and order issue should not have been an extension of counter-insurgency campaign but in a place like Kashmir, the two have been intertwined in such a manner that the distinction has blurred. The presence of uniformed persons at any place is resented by the people. Be it the outrage shown by Pulwama college students or the youth in Batamaloo, the reaction from the uniformed personnel has led to spilling of blood. The security personnel may have their own justifications for the retaliation, but the outcome of their response has not served any purpose.
It added to the viciousness in the atmosphere and offered yet another handle to the pro-freedom groups to perpetuate their own agenda. The unfortunate incidents are taking place at the onset of much-awaited summer season, which virtually gave a miss to the population last year during a prolonged public uprising.
The incidents of blood spilling are taken place on regular intervals, which disallows the situation to settle down. This is not an easy scenario and consequently there is no simple prescription available to run over such a situation. However, there is no second opinion on the fact that prolonged periods of lull and peace bring in a semblance of normalcy and people begin to cherish these moments. If the authorities, precisely the gun-wielding uniformed personnel fanned out in every nook and corner, behave in a restrained manner, a possibility of prolonged peaceful spells can be envisaged. This situation can be created when course corrections are done on the way the state is handling the security affairs. The Pulwama and Batamaloo incidents serve as big reminders.