Kashmir on the precipice

The free hand granted to police during the Amarnath agitation has not been withdrawn yet.

Omar Abdullah

This time, however, the situation has dented the reputation of the youngest chief minister of the state, who assumed office with much hype in January.

In his first briefing to media in Srinagar as chief minister in January, Omar asserted that he would not do things that create a situation similar to Amarnath agitation. But barely six months into the office, analysts say, Omar has lost control over the situation.

“The expectations with the new chief minister were very high. So high that it was not humanly possible to achieve that,” said Chaudhary. “The result was that no scope of error was left for him. Except in Shopian incident, Omar took timely action. He bungled a bit in Shopian case.”

The Shopian incident which stirred the current storm was attributed to mishandling. After that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah promised to be cautious and he even refused to talk to “hostile media” fearing twisting of his words. Once bitten twice shy, Abdullah consistently refused to take questions on Shopian follow up in media interactions on other matters.
But soon there were other problems, and he had to break his silence.

In Larkipora Islamabad, a 16-year-old youth Basharat Ahmad was summoned by army to their camp on June 28. Next morning, when the relatives of the youth went to the camp seeking his release, the army denied his presence in the camp. Instead, they told the people that they had already released the youth from a “rear gate”.
Larkipora incidents were once a norm in Kashmir but as experts put it these are “unacceptable in post militancy” situation of Kashmir.

Chief Minister gave out a strong worded statement this time. He said the army should ‘prove’ that the boy was released. Otherwise, if the body was found, it would indicate a custodial killing.

The statement didn’t help either. In fact it added the death clause to the case. The family that was hoping for their son’s safe release had to think of a coffin too. Dead or alive, however, the boy is yet to be traced. The town is refusing to cool down. So does the rest of Kashmir.

The localisation of the agitations adds to the challenges for the government. Bomai and Shopian have opened new chapters of localised resistance, where by people from the aggrieved locality fight their battle to the end.

For instance in Ganderbal, people threatened protests following alleged desecration of mosque by a local police official who also was accused of firing tear smoke shells in a girls’ school. The panicked administration of chief minister’s constituency swiftly recalled the accused official.

In Baramulla, four people were killed for demanding justice for a woman who alleged sexual harassment by police men stationed in Baramulla Police Station.

To some extent the incident in Baramulla depicted people’s mistrust of police. When the woman alleged misconduct by police, people needed no verification. The police reaction to people protests did the rest.

Professor Gul Wani Photo: Bilal Bahadur

Prof Gul Wani of Polical Science Department at University of Kashmir says that administration seems helpless to the changed situation in Kashmir. “There is a growing crisis of state apparatus in dealing with post militancy Kashmir,” says Wani.
Even if people have moved ahead from militancy to a mass movement era, the state apparatus is stuck up with the same status.
A senior police officer wishing anonymity told Kashmir Life that a larger reality is being ignored.
“In the last 20 years, all the batches of IPS and KPS were trained with the objective that they will come out of the academies and kill militants. They were never trained to do normal policing, so it will reflect on ground,” the officer said.
Experts say that the

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