Managing turmoil: Acid test for Kashmiri leadership
by Jaibans Singh on 09 Jul 2013 3 Comments

The recent unfortunate deaths of two young boys in Kashmir have opened a new sad chapter in the turbulent history of the State. Irfan Nabi Ganaie, a student of class 12, died of gunshot wounds during an anti-terrorist operation launched by the security forces in the wee hours on Sunday, June 30, in the vicinity of his village, Markundal, in north Kashmir. Tariq Ahmad Laharwal died during a protest that turned violent and forced army personnel to fire in self defence. This is a terrible loss for the families of the two boys, which no amount of money can compensate, though of course the state government will make a decent reparation.


The General Officer Commanding of the Counter Insurgency Force whose troops were involved in the operation has expressed deep sadness and sympathy with the bereaved families and promised a thorough probe into the incident. But it is worrisome that the deaths are being exploited to instigate disruption in the valley. The tourist season is at its tail end and the Amarnath Yatra is underway; this has always been the most opportune time for separatists and divisive elements to create commotion and attempt to re-establish their otherwise dormant relevance. These forces are always looking for an opportunity of this nature to trigger their reprehensible agenda and the incident has provided the most apt trigger.


The challenge now lies in not only providing solace to the bereaved families in whatever manner possible, but in ensuring that the evil designs of the divisive elements are not allowed to fructify. The first requirement calls for a thorough investigation, which the Army is already doing. The Jammu and Kashmir Police will also carry out its investigation. In case of wrongdoing by the men in uniform, it will come to light and the guilty brought to justice in accordance with the law of the land. Both investigations must be speedy, transparent and impartial.


Certain forces are already working overtime to scuttle the investigative process by creating smoke screens. Contradictory statements are doing the rounds; outlandish motives are being attributed to the action of the army; suddenly an ‘eyewitness’ has come into the scene; the unstable emotional condition of the bereaved families is being exploited to the hilt. All these activities can seriously hamper the investigative process and wash away significant evidence. It is the duty of the State to ensure that the investigation process is not scuttled under any circumstances.


The second agenda of the forces of disruption is to cause civil unrest. Already the valley has witnessed two days of strikes and bandhs. This matter has to be dealt with politically to ensure that normalcy is not affected and that the cycle of violence is contained. The opposition will have to rise above differences and play a mature role in this time of high emotions.


The incident is being exploited to damage the reputation of the Army in the valley. An Army school providing quality education in the area, which has produced excellent results, was torched. This does not bode well for the citizens themselves and they must insulate schools must mindless acts of violence.


Incidents of this nature generally cause the separatists to make snide remarks about the Prime Minister’s policy of zero tolerance to human rights violations. This is unfair. Over the years the State government and the security forces have worked tenaciously to apply this policy on ground. All standard operating procedures have been directed towards this goal and the results have been good. Unfortunate incidents are exceptions and not a norm, and have to be accepted as human failings.


Undoubtedly the state administration and security forces will draw lessons from the incident and strengthen their standard operating procedures to avoid such incidents in the future. Perhaps we could get a system in place where avoiding collateral damage gets precedence over anti-terrorist measures.


The need of the hour is unity between the people and the political leadership. Social turmoil should not be allowed to raise its evil head again. This is the acid test for the Kashmiri leadership and the State government.

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