Stop civilian killings
Peace seems to be eluding the people of Kashmir as there seems to be no letup in the killings that too of civilians by armed forces. The last few days have yet again witnessed civilian killings making the situation even worse then what it was during the past few weeks.
The civilian killings that too of youth who hardly have managed to cross their teens is not in any way going to ease out the situation the Kashmir valley is faced with. The killings are leading us nowhere.
During the month of May this year the then government felt so directionless after a bout of fresh killings that an all party meeting was convened in Srinagar where the participants who were running short of ideas called upon the Centre to consider a unilateral ceasefire in the state starting from Ramzan in mid May till the completion of the Amarnath yatra in August.
Though the federal government gave it a consideration and announced Non Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO), which was followed during the month of Ramadhan. However, as the situation showed some signs of improvement the union government without consulting the state ordered the cancellation of NICO and thus the same process of CASO, protests and killings started again.
The process has led to another crisis like situation in Kashmir with the governor administration failing to reign in the forces who seem to be unrelenting in adopting and following the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that is otherwise to be followed during protests, riot control and other emerging situations in a sensitive place like Kashmir.
The current situation in Kashmir has come to a boiling point where it seems that the only way to control the volatile situation here is to put a full stop to the killing of civilians by government forces, particularly at places where government forces and besieged militants are engaged in a firefight and those situations that arise during protests and stone pelting.
Kashmir has seen a rise in civilian killings at encounter sites during clashes between forces and protestors who swarm to the locations where militants are holed up in order to break the siege and help the militants escape. The killings have also been taking place at places of protest when protestors target security personnel and their vehicles with stones.
Police records reveal that at least 106 civilians died in forces’ firing near encounter sites since January 2017. These killings have continued in the ongoing Governor’s rule in the state following the fall of the PDP-BJP government last month.
The civilian killings, along with the killings of militants in forces’ action, has led to an unending cycle of protests in the Valley. South Kashmir apart, regions like the northern districts too have been witnessing an increased activity of youth who indulge in anti government protests.
The sentiment against the forces is running so deep among the youth that almost 30 young boys have opted to join the militant ranks during the past six weeks. The initiation of ceasefire offer, NICO and even peace talk offers have failed to control the situation or bring a desirable change in Kashmir.
The present crisis has grown much beyond these rhetoric’s. The scenario in Kashmir can be changed only when people witness some action on ground. For this the state government headed by N N Vohra needs to rope in the centre to take some concrete measures, measures that will help in improving the ground situation.