An unedifying state of affairs

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Twenty days after Kashmir was plunged into turmoil over the death of the militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the situation has showed little signs of improvement. Instead, in many areas, things have gotten worse by the day. The toll has shot up to 55 and the injuries too have grown exponentially.  There are now more than 3000 injured who are being treated at various hospitals in Valley with SMHS bearing the brunt of this unfolding tragedy. Hundreds of patients with serious pellet and bullet injuries have been admitted at the hospital, stretching its manpower thin. The doctors have done their best to ensure a quality treatment. But a significant number of the grievous injuries are beyond the best possible medical help. For example that of Insha Malik, 14, who lost both her eyes. The image of her bubbly pockmarked face and the stitched, disfigured eyes has become the symbol of the humanitarian fallout of the ongoing turmoil in the state. Or for that matter Danish, 22, who also stares at a complete blindness. Around hundred youth are likely to lose their  vision in one or both their pellet-hit eyes.  Fifty others are likely to be maimed. The toll of the dead and the injured is rising by the day, with police continuing to use the lethal and the so called non-lethal weapons. Now that both the CRPF and the Army have overruled the home minister Rajnath Singh’s counsel for the maximum restraint in the use of pellet guns. 

The situation now is that the protests are ongoing, the government is invisible and the Hurriyat is extending the protest calendars. And basically it is the security establishment which has been left to deal with the situation. And they have dealt with it in the most crudest and the callous way possible. The PDP leadership headed by the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who in opposition had always talked of a pro-active and the empathetic response to the crises of this magnitude have fared worse than their predecessors. The party’s spokesmen and Mehbooba herself have trotted out cloying platitudes to explain the gross security excesses, implicitly blaming the victims themselves.  Is this the mainstream party which had sold itself as the different? One which once accused National Conference of making the worst compromises to stay in power? One still has access to the party’s old press statements which used to be full of the righteous derision against the NC’s knee-jerk actions in power. 

And with PDP’s previous three year term in office under Mufti Sayeed being recalled for some redeeming difference to the governance complemented by a simultaneous peace process between India and Pakistan, the party had developed some authentic halo. But the current term has demolished this illusion, perhaps once and for all. Mehbooba is no different than her betenoire in  NC and vice versa. And while PDP has exposed itself, NC too has not wrapped itself in glory. As opposition, NC has been even worse. Its leaders have limited their opposition to the occasional tweets.   While ruling party leaders have shied away from visiting the victims, NC hasn’t cared to lead even a public protest in some safe area of Srinagar. How can the mainstream parties ever expect the people to trust them ever again?  

 

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