Millennium Post

Trouble brewing in Paradise

What next in Jammu and Kashmir? The question assumes importance in view of the three recent developments: resumption of killings, though yet sporadic, by militants which have shattered the state’s three year long calm; protests over the hanging of the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and the demand for the return of his body buried in Delhi’s Tihar jail; and, the controversy triggered by the arrest by the Delhi police of Liyaqat Ali Shah, an alleged Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist.

One should not be unduly surprised by militants again resorting to killings, mainly of the security forces men. During the last over two decades of its chequered history, the state has alternately witnessed phases of calm and violence. The only surprise caused by militants latest actions is that these have taken place when the ranks of the separatists and their armed outfits stand depleted and vertically divided.

The fact that those resuming the killings have mainly been Pakistani infiltrators assumes significance as they crossed the borders under the cover of firing by the Pakistani Army. This implies that after a break, forced by the India-Pakistan peace process, the Pakistan Army has again started playing an activist’s role on the Kashmir front. The Pakistani establishment might have calculated that by turning the focus on Kashmir will convince the people that the ruling leadership has not abandoned the country’s claim on the state, which will help the ruling dispensation in the coming elections. Leave aside the resumption of killings by the militants. What is of greater concern is the intense controversy generated by the hanging of the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. There have been widespread protests in the Valley over Afzal’s hanging and for the demand for returning his body to his family. Srinagar and New Delhi have also taken divergent stands on the issue. While speaking in the state Assembly, the chief minister Omar Abdullah even slammed the Centre. He referred to Afzal Guru as
which invited critical comments from some of the legislators.  

Afzal’s hanging cannot be linked with the question, as some people want, of abolishing capital punishment. No doubt, some countries have banned the death sentence, demand for which has also been under debate in India for long. But till a considered decision is taken on the issue, those sentenced to death by the courts for committing heinous crimes cannot escape execution. Afzal Guru, who committed the unpardonable crime of attacking the temple of democracy and endangering the lives of the peoples elected representatives, cannot be an exception.

Another worrisome aspect of the recent developments is the controversy over the arrest of Liyaqat Ali Shah, the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist by the Delhi police for allegedly planning attacks in New Delhi. The J& K police and the state government have refuted the Delhi police’s claim. They said Liyaqat was on his way to Kashmir to surrender under the state rehabilitation policy. The government said that it was processing over 800 applications of former militants, who have applied under the rehabilitation policy announced in 2010 and the Liyaqat was one of them. The Delhi police seem to be on a weak wicket on the Liyaqat issue. It said that it had arrested him on specific information from the (central) intelligence agencies.

But its insiders say that it was Delhi police’s own information on the basis of which it arrested the alleged Hizbul terrorist. The J&K chief minister has ridiculed the Delhi police stand saying that militants planning terrorist actions do not take their family members along on their killing missions. The Centre has referred the matter to the National Investigation Agency for the probe. It will be a big embarrassment for the Delhi police if the NIA finds its stand faulty. Delhi police has already been in dock for the rising crime graph.

Omar Abdullah’s divergent stand on Afzal Guru and Liyaqat Ali Shah may raise the eyebrows of certain sections of the political class. But given the situation in the state, the chief minister seems to have preferred to identify himself with the sentiments of the large sections of the Valley’s population.

Besides the internal factors, the state’s future scenario may also be influenced by two external factors. One is the political shade of the grouping that takes over in Pakistan after the 11 May elections. In this context much will depend on the role Nawaz Sharif, Pervez Musharraf and Imran Khan play in framing the country’s policy towards India. The other will be the situation in Afghanistan after withdrawal of the US forces in 2014. If the terror outfits operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan extend their operational area to J&K New Delhi and Srinagar will have to devise measures on the security and political fronts. It is time they start doing spadework. (IPA)
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