On cop killings, I beg to differ

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Though Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has no qualms in admitting that Hurriyat “never denied or ignored the role of gun in our struggle,” what needs to be understood is that this statement of his isn’t open-ended. In his autobiography ‘Walur ke Kinaray’, Geelani has made a very pertinent observation on the ethical issue regarding violence: “When the gun lost control, militants lost the moral standing,” he writes. And the recent killings of three traffic policemen by Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants has once again proved that in Kashmir there is no “control” over the gun today. 

The heartrending photos of grieving family members of the deceased policemen carried by local dailies would have brought a lump in every Kashmiris throat.  Unfortunately, no one, not even Geelani Sahib has condemned these senseless killings. On the contrary, in his latest video message, Hizb poster boy Burhan Wani has tried to justify the recent killings of Jammu and Kashmir police personnel.  However, despite his charismatic appeal and extraordinary ability to make convincing arguments, Burhan has failed to come out with any plausible reasons that justify the unprovoked killing of policemen.

In his six minutes long video, Burhan has spoken of how the police were targeted because they had not heeded to the Hizb warning to “stay away from anti-freedom movement activities.” Since the deceased policemen are no longer in a position to reply to this accusation and defend themselves someone has to do so. And the truth is far from what is being alleged because none of the policemen killed by militants were in anyway involved in what Burhan has referred to as “anti freedom movement activities.” The dead policemen were on traffic control duties and by no stretch of imagination can this be considered to be part of “anti freedom movement activities.”

Burhan has made it clear that policemen would no longer be warned and has asked them “not to create nakas and stay inside camps.” It is difficult to believe that an intelligent and educated person like Burhan could ever issue such an impractical and non-implementable diktat. How can one ever expect a policeman to defy orders of his superior by refusing to perform duties that are part of his charter? The only way the policemen can do this is by resigning from their jobs but if they do so where would they get the money to feed themselves and their families? 

As it is, militancy has made the life of Kashmiris extremely difficult and so the Hizb must show some compassion towards people of the same stock and not target a person merely because he is a policeman. In any case, stealthily attacking unarmed policemen who are busy controlling traffic in crowded places doesn’t speak too well about those who claim to be virtuous ‘mujahideen’.

It is an undisputed and proven fact that violence can only create further problems rather than solve them. In addition, use of violence to achieve any desired objectives even if they are legitimate has two big disadvantages. First, violence gives the state a perfectly valid reason to impose harsh laws which result in extreme hardships to the public and Kashmiris have been suffering on this account for more than a quarter century. Secondly, any movement or struggle that uses violence as a means to achieve its objectives invariably loses favour with the international community and Kashmir is no exception as we can see for ourselves.

Another surprising thing about Burhan’s video message is his assertion that Kashmiri militants are not terrorists. He argues that “this land is ours. Kashmir is ours. We are not terrorists but it is the army men that are terrorists.” It is understandable when someone from the old school of thought like the Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin makes such a statement. However, when a sharp person like Burhan too joins the ‘freedom fighter’ chorus, it indicates that even though educated boys may have joined militancy in large numbers, the mindset of Hizb still remains antiquated. So, even though Burhan may make grand proclamations about being engaged in the noble task of waging an ‘armed struggle’, the fact remains that no amount of self glorification will change the international perception on this issue and by killing innocent policemen the Hizb is only making things worse for itself. 

It is well known that in Kashmir, ‘freedom fighters’ as well as the separatist camp seldom think independently or listen to logical suggestions. So, even though it will in all probability fall on deaf ears, I would still like to plead that it is time for them to cast aside emotions and overcome prejudices so that they can introspect rationally. Violence in Kashmir has taken a very heavy toll without giving even an iota of impetus to the struggle for the ‘right to self determination’. Therefore in this ongoing battle between the militants and security forces, this senseless practice of militants killing Kashmiri traffic cops must stop. The Hizb should not invite the curse of the family members of slain policemen who were in no way connected with anti-militancy operations.

Demanding implementation of UN resolutions while engaging in an ‘armed struggle’ is akin to riding two horses at the same time and that is why despite thousands of deaths, the ‘right to self determination’ is still eluding us even after nearly seven decades. Yet, neither the separatist conglomerate nor the civil society has ever considered it necessary to have an open discussion on the efficacy of the ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir. What is even more disheartening is that while nearly every Hurriyat leader has on some occasion or the other spoken about the futility of ‘armed struggle’ none has ever called for a meeting to deliberate on this issue. 

And probably that is why the Hizb (just like the UJC chief and the Hizb supremo Syed Salahuddin had himself once admitted), continues to fight “Pakistan’s war in Kashmir”. 

 

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