Crisis Management

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Even if the police statement about the south Kashmir barber attempting to kill himself is taken at the face value, it is an indictment in itself. A man who has been regularly being summoned for his activities was so desperate that he wanted to kill himself. Why he was being summoned and what has been happening to him in frequent questioning sessions is a matter of detail? Where from he got the blade and why was he so desperate to take his life is a matter of investigation?

But what the obvious moral of the story is that to counter or manage the explosive situation, the counter-insurgency grid is going to a level where it is proving counter-productive.

There have been countless statements by the top men who managed Kashmir’s counter-insurgency that the grid has actually done whatever it needed. It has managed militancy, at least on the numerical front twice to the extent that there was a feeling that perhaps the violence is over. But in absence of any other intervention, Kashmir was back to square one.

Now the situation is that the entire Kashmir is being managed by the police, paramilitary forces, and the army. The Station House Officer (SHO) is pushed to be the main manager of all kind of situations from food deficit, road clearance to the now famous CASO, the erstwhile crackdowns. While this all is taking a hit on the routine policing, it is also leading to increased tensions between the police force and the larger society for which works. The last week’s swapping was an indicator of a crisis that had the potential of hitting Kashmir at the core of its social fabric.

Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration is keen that it goes for the local body polls. The idea is to revive the political process at ground zero so that certain threads can be picked up and worked upon. But the political parties are wary of the prevailing situation. National Conference has called for the boycott and all others are apparently following the trend. Political parties have their own problems. They are unable to move around and the petition on Article 35A is hanging like a Damocles’ sword. This situation is literally asphyxiating their narrative around the special status of the state.

With the absence of a political government in the state and the administration being directly managed by the central government, there are expectations that the tensions will increase. Militancy apart, there are other forces that have thrown their hat in the ring. By boycotting the local body polls, the unionist parties have added yet another front for the administration, for their own reasons. This is expected to add more pressures on the entire security grid.

For whatever reasons, the governor’s administration has affected a series of changes in the police organization. In the very first initiative, an additional DGP rank officer was given the law and order responsibility. In the second decision, a new intelligence chief was appointed. And the latest decision led to the shifting of the police chief. An interim arrangement has been made by appointing Dilbagh Singh as the new state police chief. The government has gone to the Supreme Court to seek an exception.

While there is less possibility of the security set-up changing its evolved systems to manage the situation, a general hope is that there would be some change on the ground that helps people to breathe easy. Use of force is pushing a dehumanized society to seek the next level of the effective tool of communicating with the system. There has to be some intervention that will halt this quest.

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