Saving New Delhi

During the first week of December, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) questioned New Delhi’s rationale of continuing with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir. And the Home Minister (who is already facing flak for outrightly abandoning his predecessor P Chidambaram’s support to the proposal for ‘partial’ removal of AFSPA), seemed to be in a real tight spot. For this time, the NHRC had not based is observation on any findings, views or opinions of any organisation, group or individual. Instead, it cited the government’s own admission at UN during the Second Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights that India does not face any ‘armed conflict situations’, and by this admission, continuation of AFSPA itself appears unreasonable.

But then, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is indeed a lucky man as providence has come to his timely rescue in the form of the recent encounter in Sopore which resulted in the killing of six Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants! Because, if used properly, this incident is not just another ordinary encounter but one which has all that is needed for bailing out New Delhi from even the worst of the attacks for its insistence on continuing to enforce AFSPA in J&K. Just a few examples of how this incident can possibly be exploited by New Delhi to portray to the international community that:

Presence of six heavily armed militants in a densely populated area amply proves that the situation in J&K is certainly not normal and as such, continuation of AFSPA is necessary to ‘protect’ the population from ‘violence and intimidation’ of militants, which is the constitutional responsibility of the Union Government.

Presence of militants belonging to LeT (which has been declared a proscribed terrorist organisation by USA, UK, the EU, Russia, Australia, India and even Pakistan) clearly indicates that an ‘armed conflict situation’ does exist in J&K and this justifies the continued imposition of the AFSPA in the State.

Statement of Chief Operations Commander of LeT Mehmood Shah thanking separatist leaders for expressing solidarity with the militants killed in Sopore encounter is a clear indication that the separatist leadership though professing its unconditional commitment to peaceful forms of protest, is actually encouraging and abetting terrorism.  

Those espousing ‘armed resistance’ are continuously failing to realise the grave damage that militancy is causing to the ongoing movement for ‘right to self determination’. The confusion and contradictions within the ‘pro-azadi’ camp on the road map for carrying this movement forward further compounds this woe. So, if India is looking for an excuse to consign the Kashmir issue to the backburner, then it doesn’t have to work overtime as our separatist and militant leadership is giving New Delhi ample opportunity along with convincing reasons that will enable it to pursue its agenda without the fear of agitating the international community. The vitriolic attacks by separatist leaders against each other during the run up to the Hurriyat (M) delegation to Pakistan has not only exposed the unsavoury side of the internal feud within the Hurriyat but has also eroded credibility of the Hurriyat’s contention that it represents the collective aspirations of the Kashmiris.

So, rather than spending some time for resolving its own shortcomings through serious introspection and mutual discussions, the separatist leadership is busy charging at windmills. While the Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani ascribes all ills afflicting the ‘azadi’ movement to New Delhi’s ‘deep rooted conspiracy’ , Bilal Lone finds it convenient to blame others. During his current Pakistan visit, he has not only lambasted the OIC by stating that “They don’t have legs to stand up, what would they give to us,” but also accused Pakistan of ‘glorifying’ the ‘pro-India’ politicians by his sarcastic remark that, “We thank you for inviting NC and PDP leadership here who are now encroaching upon our political space.”

From what one reads in the newspapers, it is apparent that the current visit of the Hurriyat (M) delegation to Pakistan is nothing more than another an attempt to project the Mirwaiz as the ‘real’ leader of the Kashmiris and Bilal Lone’s remarks to this effect just proves the point. By diverting from the main issue, the Hurriyat (M) is actually widening the ideological chasm between the Hurriyat (G) and Hurriyat (M) and the infighting between these amalgams is a major chink in the separatist armour which is bound to hurt the ‘Kashmir cause’. But then, this was always expected and so, all we can do is to just wait and watch!

Tailpiece: Bilal Gani Lone has asked India and Pakistan to ‘give Kashmiris free space to take the decisions’. However, the million dollar question is that should this highly improbable situation actually come to pass, then with so many ‘Kashmiri leaders’ claiming to be our ‘true’ representatives, will they ever be in a position to come together and take any unanimous decision? Once again, your guess will be as good as mine!

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