The completion of panchayat elections in the state without any major untoward incident points to a peaceful summer ahead. The tourist arrivals are on the rise and the business activity appears to be peaking. However, the trust deficit created in the last three summers of unrest is still haunting the valley. The more than a hundred civilian killings during last summer are part of the collective memory. And the government has not given any indication of reaching out to the people to weed out that trust deficit.
This is the most opportune time for the government to mobilize all available resources to address the grievances of common man.
A peaceful summer needs to be built upon with genuine confidence building measures. The role of security forces gains significance in this scenario. Regard for human rights and restraint by men on ground are the twin principles that should now be strictly adhered to. The army has already embarked on such a programme by organizing a series of debates and seminars on human rights. Other security agencies must follow suit by opening up to the common man. The state police has to take the lead, given the enormous responsibility, the organization is shouldering. In the given context, the police should bring out a more humane face.
The rehabilitation of militants wanting to return to their homes can help significantly in this direction. The policy devised for the return of these youth has been received well by the civil society and it needs to be further strengthened to ensure the return of all these youth. The release and rehabilitation of young boys arrested on charges of stone-pelting should be taken up immediately and they should be given a chance to engage in fruitful and constructive activities.
Lately the government removed several security bunkers from public places in Srinagar city, however, the initiative was abandoned half-way through. Thinning of security forces’ deployment in the city has been the biggest challenge for any government in the state. Studies conducted by several non-partisan organizations reveal that presence of deployment of security personnel around public places has adverse effects on human psyche. Removing from around densely populated areas could serve as a true confidence building measure in Kashmir.
The discourse related to presence of militants, especially foreigners, and the militant activity needs to be done in a perspective. With different agencies talking in different voices the resultant confusion takes away the hopes of common man and sends a bad message to the outside world.