How much bloodshed

The indiscriminate firing on protestors at Pattan by the police personnel accompanying the cavalcade of a senior police officer reveals the psyche behind the working of the entire state police organisation irrespective of rank and order. The senior police officer could very well have prevented the situation turning bloody by simply waiting for some time to let the people disperse before making his journey onwards or could have simply returned instead of confronting the angry protestors. The protestors in this case were neither on any rampage of arsenal nor were they attacking any police or paramilitary party as has been claimed in the past. A two line routine statement released by police following the incident asserted that the erring police personnel will be identified and action will be taken against them; a worn out and an obsolete sequence of words in this part of world.

The fact remains that the mere sight of an assembly of people in Kashmir is  enough a provocation for the men in Khaki to test their shooting skills, upholding  the policy of absolute subjugation of people that successive regimes, at the behest of New Delhi,  have been pursuing  in the state for more than sixty years now.  Incidents like the recent Pattan massacre has been fuelling the current crisis since the death of a teenager in the old city area by a police teargas canister. With the death toll rising the anger among the Kashmiri population, especially youth kept on  mounting, precipitating in hard fought stone battles with the police and paramilitaries, occasionally leading to damage of public property. Under these circumstances the intimidating factor responsible for the angry protests accompanied by stone pelting is too obvious to be overlooked and any debate on stone pelting should not miss the point.

The recent administrative maneuovers of shuffling people here and there is only a gimmick by the beleaguered CM, lest the bureaucracy and officialdom forgets that the State has a chief minister too and probably this is the only quarter where he can make his presence felt. These acts are bound to be futile as far as the ground realities are concerned and also underestimate the fact that Kashmir is neither a law and order problem nor a matter of good or bad governance.

After several failed attempts by New Delhi at dubbing the genuine aspirations in Kashmir as being managed by actors across the border and supported by Lashkar-e-Toiba at the beginning and later labelling it as a ploy of opposition PDP, a certain section of Indian civil society and some writers voiced their concern over the spate of killings of innocent Kashmiris and began talking in terms of the genuine aspirations of the people of Kashmir. These efforts by the saner sections of Indian society created a sense of hope amongst the masses in the valley.

However, unfortunately the discourse generated over the last three months on the Kashmir issue by news media with involvement of Indian civil society has gone waste and seemingly these words have no takers, either in Delhi or Kashmir. The verbal noise produced at scores of these media and civil society debates has failed to generate so much of impact on the policy of the governments at New Delhi or even in Srinagar. These debates could have at least put a halt to the loss of human lives at the hands of police and paramilitaries, leave aside any heed being paid to some new perspectives offered by these for the solution of this vexed issue. The question that strikes the mind is how much more innocent blood New Delhi wants to be spilled in Kashmir before it musters enough political courage and acknowledges the real nature of the Kashmir conflict.

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