Starting from an alleged molestation attempt, Kashmir has lost four young men and an elderly homemaker. The entire Kashmir is under curfew both virtually and really and one week has passed. The chain of protests and killings is back in motion and now gradually the south and central Kashmir have started getting sucked into the cycle.
These incidents are taking place at a time when the farming and schooling had barely started after prolonged rainy days and hospitality sector was dusting the rooms to home the guests that 34 flights a day are flying in. The unrest that is gradually becoming the norm is going to undo all these things, instantly.
The new government that had taken oath of office after protracted negotiations with its ally should leave no stone unturned in breaking the cycle. Its commitment to delivery of justice in the series of killings apart, it must do something quickly to instil confidence among youth that it means what it says. The justice system cannot rest with managing an ASI whose takeoff from police kitchen to command and control has remained an inorganic story of elevation.
There are various issues that the government must ponder over. Unlike Srinagar that has seen vacancy of a fairly larger number of public spaces from the counter-insurgency grid, not an iota of it has changed in the periphery. In fact the presence of security grid in the rural Kashmir has been consolidated, lately. In Handwara, for instance, the bunker that was set up almost two decades back never reduced its size with an improve situation. In Sopore, for instance, not a single bunker has been removed all these years despite the robust anti-militancy grid in place. Same is case of other towns.
The bunkers in crowded markets have remained a sort of official post-box for angry youth to drop a letter for the government. That usually has remained a stone or a brick which is religiously being dropped, every time the situation is tense. This essentially means breakdown of communication between the ruler and the ruled. Addressing this must have some priority with the new government. Unlike the previous government, the north pole – south pole alliance even lacks a twitter connectivity.
Second major important challenge for the new government is to manage the armed forces. Army is trained to kill. Nowhere is it trained to manage crowds. It lacks any riot control system and it has no so-called non-lethal weaponry.
Armed force has already made it clear in Pulwama and Ashmuqam instances that it will use adequate response if their installations come under attack. That is exactly what is happening in north Kashmir in last few days.
The government will have to either adequately sanitize the armed force on this front or simply create a buffer in between the soldiers and the people. Police could be the only buffer in between the two sides despite the problems it faced in Handwara. The other option could be reducing the footprints of the armed force, which, at the moment seems unlikely as it will send BJP and TV into a tizzy.