The terror strike in Srinagar in which five CRPF personnel were killed by fidayeens posing as cricket players is highly reprehensible and is a reminder that militancy is not over in Jammu and Kashmir. The hopes of peace returning to the valley are now dashed. The last few years had been relatively calm in Kashmir, and the elections in 2008, which placed Omar Abdullah in power, lent hope that peace would prevail. These quieter years have given the illusion that the insanity of violence was at last close to termination. Alas, nothing could be far from truth, as this week’s terror strike shows. It demonstrates that there are groups in Kashmir and across the border that do not believe in the peace process and in dialogue. It shows that terror is still the chosen mode of action of a few bent upon imposing their will upon the majority. The last few weeks had been particularly tense after the hanging of Afzal Guru protests emerging across the valley. It is clear that these terror strikes are in retaliation to Afzal Guru’s hanging for they came on the day Kashmiri separatist groups had given the call for a shutdown of the valley demanding the return of his body. Yet Afzal Guru is but just another excuse for the militants in Kashmir to perpetrate fresh violence against the Indian state. That there is a Pakistan angle to this terrorist violence has been made clear by the arrest of a Pakistani militant in connection with it. Pakistan continues to fan the fires of militancy in Kashmir despite its pretensions of peace overtures to India.
It would appear that groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba, of which this attack has all the hallmarks, sensed the opportunity to meddle in troubled waters. A new cycle of violence must not begin with this terrorist strike. The government has to be careful in handling its aftermath. It must not take knee-jerk actions though it has to be prepared for an onslaught of terrorist strikes and take preventive measures accordingly. Though demands for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, have been made, even by the chief minister, the government must not be hasty in doing so. It must, however, continue to strengthen democracy in Jammu and Kashmir and consider implementing some of the wiser measures suggested by the group of interlocutors on Kashmir whose report is at present lying in the trash can. Peace must prevail in Kashmir at all costs.