New Militancy Needs Political Response not homilies

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Chief Minister Mehbooba has urged the youth to become a part of “movement for peace and change” and “a potent voice to denounce violence which has only brought miseries” to the people.  The exhortation  has come following the killings of five security personnel over two days by the militants and thus reflects the challenge posed by the fresh spurt in violence. Three BSF men were killed on Friday when militants ambushed their convoy near Goriwan on Srinagar-Jammu national highway followed by a firing on a police patrol party at Anantnag Bus Stand which killed two policemen, one of them an ASI. Earlier, an attack in downtown Srinagar killed three policemen, one of them again an ASI. Over the past five months, security forces have killed around 50 militants in various encounters. But the recent attacks have been mounted by militants despite severe depletion in their ranks. This is thus paradoxical. Earlier this year, the police figures had pegged the number of militants a little over 100. So, the rise in their killings should have normally led to a conspicuous drop in the violence. But the contrary has happened. The militant offensive has gone up, leading to a sudden rise in the killings of the security personnel. 

From the state government point of view this should be a point of deep concern. If anything, it shows there has been a fresh recruitment to the militant ranks. That is, despite the killings of a sizable number of the militants in recent months. This has hardly acted as a damper for jihad and on the contrary only fanned the sentiment.  These are alarm bells  which government can hardly afford to miss.  At least two factors are apprehended to potentially contribute to the revival of militancy. One, Kashmir’s bitter new generation which always appears “one step away from picking up the gun”. A significant number of these youth is said to be dedicated to the cause, soaked in sentiment and rooted in ideology. This generation is angry, rebellious and willing to take up arms. Nineties generation in comparison was innocent. They took to guns in a rush, little knowing what was in store for them. But the new generation is consciously into it and seems to be ready for the consequences.  One pointer to this is the growing incidence of stone throwing among the youth in Valley and its increasing ferocity. This is a generation that doesn’t need to be motivated. If they can so ferociously pelt stones, they can as well wield guns, if offered an opportunity and a choice. Only factor that doesn’t support another round of a full blown militancy  in the state is the transformed geo-politics of the region, with Pakistan lacking capacity and clout to sustain t. But there is no underestimating the ability of the militant networks in Pakistan or farther afield to act autonomously of the government.

So while Mehbooba asks youth to steer the state out of the ‘gloomy scenario of death  and destruction”, she will hardly carry a conviction if she abdicates her well known politics of the resolution of the festering conflict over the state. Much like her party’s previous term in power, Mehbooba has to actively work for a settlement for Kashmir which alone will permanently stamp out the factors that underpin the continuing violence in the state. 

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