Uneasy calm prevails
An uneasy calm prevails over Kashmir Valley. Several separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq have been kept under house arrest by the authorities. The likes of Geelani and Farooq had planned to hold protests against the police shooting incident at Budgam district the day before. Suhail Ahmad Sofi, a teenager, was killed at the site of shooting, while two other youths were injured. They were protesting against the killing of two men in an army operation in Tral area of Pulwama district last week. Fortunately, the authorities have arrested the erring police officers, who displayed unnecessary amounts of force. This situation has further vitiated the already tense atmosphere.
The BJP-PDP government has been blighted by lack of communication and ideological syncretisation. The current situation, one could argue, escalated after recently released separatist leader Masarat Alam led a rally, where supporters were seen raising Pakistani flags. Of course, such acts do not help matters. However, the arrest and the ensuing ‘outrage’ on national media, articulated by those in the mainland Indian political establishment, only worsened matters. Not arresting Asiya Andrabi for singing the Pakistani national anthem last month was in fact a sound decision. She was booked under various provisions of the law – and soon forgotten. Alam should have received similar treatment.
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s experiment to include separatist leaders into the dialogue process has hit a brick wall, only after he chose not to communicate Alam’s release from prison to his coalition partner. This lack of communication between the two parties was further brought home by the controversy over the Centre’s proposed plan of separate townships for returning Kashmiri Pandits. In this regard, Mufti went around the Centre and said that the plan was not feasible. The Common Minimum Programme set by both political outfits, which is supposed to address such divisive issues, clearly seems to have borne no fruit.
Provocation on both sides of the ideological and political divide, which include Alam’s pro-Pakistan slant as well as the use of draconian measures like PSA and AFSPA and flip-flops by the present state government, continue to muddy the waters.