Little impact of ceasefire in J&K
The Centre's unilateral ceasefire in Jammu & Kashmir beginning the Ramazan on May 16 has not elicited the intended response from the militant outfits. On the contrary, there is an escalation in violence in the Kashmir valley with local police and militants clashing with security forces on a daily basis. On Monday, at least 12 people and four policemen were injured when an unidentified person hurled a grenade at security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian. "Militants today afternoon lobbed a grenade at Shopian in Batapora area which exploded inflicting injuries to several civilians and few policemen. The grenade exploded along the roadside amid the civilian population," a police spokesperson said. In the past week, there have been several grenade attacks on security forces. Eight people including four paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers and an equal number of civilians were injured on June 2 in four grenade attacks carried out by the militants. And, the death of a youth who was run over by a CRPF vehicle in Nowhatta on June 1 triggered a fresh wave of protests. Police official said that a group of young men resorted to stone-pelting on security forces after Friday prayers. Police used tear-gas and pellets against stone-throwers. Later, as the stone pelting clash turned violent, a CRPF BP (Bullet Proof) vehicle ran over the two men identified as Mohammad Younis of Dalgate and Kaiser Ahmad Bhat of Fatehkadal. According to CRPF spokesperson, the vehicle with CRPF official, his escort and a driver was on routine checking development, when it was attacked by around 500 stone-pelters in Nowhatta area in old town Srinagar. The violent stone-pelters were trying to over-power and lynch the CRPF jawans who were inside the vehicle. The CRPF party showed maximum restraint by not firing a single bullet. Two Border Security Force personnel, including an officer, were killed on June 3 as Pakistani Rangers targeted Indian posts along the International Border in Jammu with mortars and firing. As these incidents suggest that though the Centre has announced a unilateral ceasefire in J&K and the Indian security forces have suspended their operations, the militant organisations and agitating local people in Kashmir valley have not refrained from violence. Rather, they have intensified their attacks and protests and the security forces.
In recent weeks since the Centre's ceasefire announcement, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had appealed to the local youth to shun violence and allow peace to prevail in the state. Even the hardline separatist Hurriyat had said that it is open to talks if the Centre talks in one voice. After a record number of ceasefire violations this year, even Pakistan army officials had in the past week agreed to implement the 2003 ceasefire pact in letter and spirit. Suddenly, it seemed that all the stakeholders of the Kashmir imbroglio were ready for peace. But the elusive peace in the Kashmir valley turned out to be transitory as a new round of violence was reported from Shopian and Srinagar. And, even Pakistan army's promise of stopping cross-border firing proved short-lived.
The latest round of escalation in violence in the Kashmir valley and Pakistan resorting to ceasefire violation along the international border invariably show that the Kashmir problem is much more complex than it looks on the surface. The region has seen clashes between the local residents and the security forces for almost three decades. During the period, a large number of security forces as well as the civilians have lost their lives and livelihoods. This has resulted in a chaos in which the security forces have reinforced their position and intensified their operations against militants and local disgruntled elements. The pain and suffering of the common people is often lost in the din of high decibel military operations between the security forces and the militants. Thousands of people have been killed and injured in the Kashmir valley since militancy erupted in the late 1980s. The people who have lost their near and dear ones in the fight have received little from the government. For them, there is no incentive to work for peace in the state. They are easily lured by the vested interests and provoked into fighting against the state police and security forces. The Centre has done well by announcing the ceasefire and now it should try to ameliorate the condition of the suffering masses. As long as there are dissatisfied people in the state, it will be easy for militant organisations to misguide them and make them fight against the security forces. Besides, expediting developmental works, the Centre should launch new employment schemes for those affected by the violence.