For nearly half of the year, the government is busy hawking the ‘peace dividend’.  From the impressive tourist arrivals to the better management of developmental funds, now everything is being booked to the open-ended ‘peace’ account – both in Delhi and in Srinagar.

But how fragility of this peace was demonstrated by two apparently innocuous events lat week – first in south Kashmir and then in capital city of Srinagar. In both the instances, massive deployments were made by the police in full ‘battle’ gear and it triggered so much of panic that the cell phone operators might have made millions. As hundreds of cops in full anti-riot gear moved to the streets, it sent the rumour mills working almost everywhere.

Some weird kind of things started spreading from Shopian when the locals saw massive deployments for apparently no reason. Any of those rumours could have run riot with the ‘peace’ that exists across Kashmir. Next morning when similar scenes were witnessed in Srinagar, especially in the old city, the assumed reasons for this were quite distressing. People were talking about somebody’s death and accidents and even rapes and molestations. What was given out was that these were mock drills, apparently aimed at instilling confidence!

People are aware of the mock drills that disaster management agencies do. They also know about the flag marches that security systems resort to. But they are not aware of such mock drills aimed at instilling or installing confidence. These could prove counter productive especially at places like Kashmir where uncertainty rules.  Trying to instill confidence by such means is reflective of the grey areas that the system has apparently failed to address. Year 2011 was not repetition of preceding three years simply because the security set up worked overtime not to offer a reason for people to come out and protest. The only issue lurking in minds is that while the youth who came out and protested were taken to task, the theory of natural justice was prevented from taking the course it should have.

These mock drills also suggest continuation of a mindset that Kashmir is a larger laboratory where experimentation on diverse social, societal, political and economic issues takes place. Once standardized, these prototypes are used elsewhere. This has been happening for decades in J&K and it has created a situation that people are apparently feeling as guinea pigs.

In the ongoing assembly session in Jammu, the role of police in managing Kashmir was discussed and debated. There were allegations of J&K being elevated to the status of a police state. However, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah justified the police activities beyond typical policing. He said the community policing does involve frequent interactions of the police and the people.

But if these interactions are eventually triggering such unpredictable exercise that send rumour mills working overtime, then questions could be raised over this strand of the community policing. One major change that police could have made in this exercise is that they should have taken the society into confidence.

Police are the biggest organ of the state. From 2012-13, it receives the second highest allocations of funds which should help the organization evolve more responsibly.


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