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PM mute on border violence

The escalating violence in Jammu and Kashmir coupled with frequent ceasefire violations at the Line of Control (LoC) is showing no signs of abating. These are undercurrents of a stretched politically clandestine approach towards resolution. It is also reinforcement that unscrupulous elements would leave no stone unturned to beset any move forward in strengthening ties between India and Pakistan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s silence-is-the-best-defence strategy may qualify for a serene figure but to lead a country as populated, as diverse, as conflictual as India breaking the silence sporadically should not be much of a compromise. Already under criticism for being ‘soft’ on Pakistan after the alleged killing of five Indian soldiers at the LoC on 5 August, dealing with erupting violence in Kishtwar and adjoining areas insensitively and mutely would only lead to more vulnerability.

Following Friday’s communal clashes in Kishtwar, curfew was imposed in Jammu and Rajouri districts and Army was called out on Saturday. On Sunday the curfew was extended to Udhampur, Samba and Kathua along with Bhaderwah town in Doda in view of rising tension which continued on Monday. Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday disapproved BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s visit to the affected region stating that the opposition is trying to ‘reap political gains’ from the situation. Not only is such a sheepish act, if at all, by BJP is unnecessary; any attempts by the ruling party to use the incident for political maneuvering is not required as well. It would lead to further instability and make things worse for any future action.

The opposition has already demanded cancellation of Manmohan Singh’s likely meeting with his Pakistani counterpart next month on sidelines of United Nations (UN) General Assembly session. Any talk conducted in such ambiguous environment coupled with a turbulent state of Jammu and Kashmir would be an uncomfortable one. One can never rule out the possibility that the 5 August incident at the LoC, escalating ceasefire violations by Pakistan and communal arsons in J&K region are intertwined. External Affairs Minister Salma Khurshid on Sunday was asked whether the LoC attack was an attempt to derail the talks between the two countries, to which he replied, ‘There may be such possibility but it does not take the responsibility away from Pakistan government for the incident.’ Perhaps, what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir should be gauged from a similar prism.

If, indeed, these brewing issues are the aftermath of a developing peace discourse between India and Pakistan than New Delhi needs to keep all ends open. Keeping internal law and order under check surely should be a priority for that only would provide an outward comfort for negotiations. Maybe Manmohan Singh needs to be a wee bit vocal on what he intends to do. Maybe what he thinks falls in synchrony with the rest (or most) of the people. Maybe being less intriguing would yield more results. 
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