The government must flush out all militants from south Kashmir
The attack by Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) terrorists on hapless pilgrims in South Kashmir late on Monday is a dastardly, inhuman act that was typically aimed at worsening the ground situation in the Valley. The incident in Anantnag district was the second terrorist attack on unarmed Amarnath yatra pilgrims in 17 years, the earlier being a pre-dawn strike in 2002 at Nanwan camp on the Amarnath route when eight pilgrims were killed.
Under the circumstances, the assurance by the United Jihad Council that the pilgrims to the cave shrine were “honoured guests” should be treated as nothing less than a betrayal. That pilgrims have decided to continue on their journey despite the terrorist strike speaks volumes for their bravery when others would have been shaken from
Monday night’s happenings.
Having said that, blame has also to be apportioned to the state government as well. The downward spiral of events since the killing of Burhan Wani gives the impression of being beyond the control of the PDP-BJP alliance led by Mehbooba Mufti. The inclusion of the BJP in a government in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time had at one time been hailed as a pragmatic step. The continuing violence in the Valley appears to have belied that hope. This is indeed a big disappointment because muich had been expected from the alliance since the BJP was in power at the Centre on the back of a massive mandate.
Only recently, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin had been designated a “global terrorist” by the United States. It was hoped it would push the terrorist organisation on to the backfoot. The attack on the pilgrims could be interpreted in some quarters as a way to challenge that view. Besides, the terrorist strike came in the wake of intensified army operations in Anantanag district resulting in the killing of top LeT commander Bashir Ahmed Wani aka Lashkari earlier this month.
The complete collapse of democratic administration of Kashmir must end. If required, a broad coalition of democratic forces including National Conference headed by Farooq Abdullah — who had been an NDA ally when Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been prime minister — and Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP along with BJP must be attempted as early as possible.
Unless the terrorists desist from attacking innocent devotees, the deep divide between Muslims and Hindus across country may widen further having larger implications and threatening the pluralistic nature of polity. The national discourse on Kashmir must change for the better. Further, taking development to the most backward Kashmiris within the spirit of Vajpayee’s postulation, Kashmiriat, Insaniyat and Jamhuriat is the only way forward. For that to happen, ending rampant corruption with unification of democratic forces is the key.
It should be the priority to establish extensive healthcare, education, and sports facilities across the state to wean away the youth from violent agitations leading to deaths of innocent people.
While this is easier said than done, plugging the huge breaches in the security apparatus resulting in the killing of innocent Hindus must be a priority too. Restricting and isolating the terror modules with a heavy hand must be pursued vigorously as the democratic institutions are rebuilt with sagacity and patience. It is time that the governor is replaced by someone with a better understanding of the tactical situation on the ground. The first only imperative is to flush out all militants from south Kashmir which has become a safe haven for terror proxies.