Burning Bridges?

The militants have done it again! And this time, they have very cleverly ambushed four policemen by luring them with false information regarding presence of some thieves in Hygam area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Though the battle between the police and militants is an ongoing one, this incident has certain disturbing constituents, which could well prove to be a source of discomfort for both the separatists as well as the general public. So, while those who carried out this attack may gloat over the ingenuity of their plan to lure unsuspecting policemen into a trap, they probably did not realise that by doing so, they would also precipitate some very serious problems!  

Just hours before this incident took place, the Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had declared that, “If Kashmir dispute has to be solved, it was imperative that demilitarisation should take place as it would help in creating conducive atmosphere which would ultimately lead to resolution of the conflict.” But, this latest attack on policemen has not only wrecked whatever little hope there was of any possible ‘demilitarisation’, but also given credence to the claim made by Inspector General of Police Kashmir Abdul Gani Mir (just a day earlier), that “Kashmir is still not militancy free”.  So, rather than reinforcing the case for the reduction security forces by maintaining an atmosphere of peace and calm, the militants, by attacking the Policemen have instead, strengthened New Delhi’s hand by giving it good reasons for justifying the massive presence of security forces which it is maintaining in Kashmir.   

Some sources have hinted that this incident could have been triggered by the recent police claim that with the arrest of north Kashmir Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) ‘military chief’ Fehdullah, militancy in north Kashmir had received a major setback . Therefore, it is quite possible that this attack was merely meant to send the message across to everyone that militancy in north Kashmir was very much ‘alive and kicking’! But, in doing so, the militants may have made a serious mistake, as they have compromised the separatists claim that New Delhi is using its ‘occupational forces’ for subjugating the peaceful population of Kashmir by exaggerating the ‘militancy level’ which in actuality is virtually non-existent! Therefore, it is unfortunate that what the separatists had achieved with such great efforts over a long period of time, has been undone by just one irrational act of the militants.

The militant leadership needs to realise that while clashes that occur when security forces attack their cadres can be justified as ‘acts of self- defence’ on the part of militants, unprovoked attacks by militants on members of law enforcing agencies gives the prevailing situation an entirely different nature. Such incidents are viewed by the international community as acts of ‘waging war’ against the State and make it difficult for the separatist leadership to justify the same. And as long as such incidents occur, appeals for ‘demilitarisation’ made by the Hurriyat conglomerate, the intelligentsia and other activists will find few takers. The militant leadership should also realise that, when a militarily strong Pakistan has itself admitted that the force of arms cannot solve the Kashmir problem, why is it adamant in continuing to do so?

Leaving the ideological and moral issues aside, this incident is also bound to have serious practical repercussions for the ordinary people. For one, the Police will now become more wary of responding to urgent public calls for assistance and criminals will have a field day since they would know that quick police assistance would not be forthcoming. Next, the police will understandably take due precaution to confirm the authenticity of calls for assistance before sending out its personnel. Due to this, even common tragedies like accidents or fire incidents, which require immediate attention, would receive attention after a considerable period of time and this could well mean possible death or extensive damage to property. In short, when in trouble, the common man will now have no other option but to fend for himself. And the fact is that the delay in police response would be solely on account of the time taken to confirm that the request is genuine and move cautiously to avoid falling into a militant trap. Thus, it is the militants who would be ultimately responsible for the delay in arrival of help as also the additional suffering the public will have to undergo on this account and this certainly does not speak well of those who claim to be fighting for our brighter future! 

The loss of hundreds or even thousands of security forces personnel will certainly not act as a catalyst for forcing New Delhi to expeditiously resolve the Kashmir issue. New Delhi is quite content with maintaining ‘status quo’ in Kashmir and as long as militancy is alive here, it is happy since this makes its task of justifying the large- scale security force presence and imposition of draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Kashmir, all the more simple. So, one only hopes that our gun- wielding brethren too will see through this game plan, ensure that their actions are such that they reinforce the struggle for the ‘right to self determination’ and not burn the bridges for this movement by indulging in acts of senseless violence!      

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