Unlike last year when we celebrated Eid-ul-Azha in the throes of the unrest, this year the festival followed a relatively peaceful period. The social peace in Valley has uneasily held despite many developments threatening to disrupt it. However, the security situation has continued to be grim and the violence has continued and much more intensely than anytime in recent years. Until August, security forces have killed 140 militants, most of them local militants in South Kashmir. The number is the highest in the past seven years. As against this, 146 militants were killed in 97 encounters during 2016. The rising killings highlight several aspects of the Valley situation. One, the increase in the number of militants which has since last year suddenly doubled to around 300 from an annual average of around 150 over the past several years. Second, it reflects the growing success of the security forces in tracking down the militants, a turn of events that is seen as the direct result of the recent troop concentration in South Kashmir. Two additional army battalions were moved to the area to reinforce the existing troop presence, most of them to Shopian and Pulwama where the Army encampments will be revived. This has deepened the penetration of the security forces comprising Army, CRPF and J&K Police.
So, in a sense, the troubled context that hung over the Eid last year has also attended the Eid this year. This makes our Eids a time of mourning and reflection. At the same time, Eid is inherently also about joy and celebration but there is nothing routine about this joy. The festival is about a spiritual renewal and a sense of fulfilment. In Kashmir and of course in other troubled spots of the world Eid assumes a meaning that runs even deeper. It is a very solemn occasion for individual and collective reflection and remembrance. It is also about our obligation towards our society. We not only inherit the tragic fallout of the trouble over the past three decades but also continue to live this reality in the present.
This year so far the Valley has been witness to an unmitigated ferment. Hundreds of protests broke out across towns and villages. Many a violent incident took place leading to loss of many lives. Sadly, our Eids are no occasions for a community level effort to help out the people who have lost their loved ones to the violence. This Eid was no different. We celebrated Eid and God showered us with his blessings but we were forgetful in our joy. As always we succumbed to an unbridled consumerism. We were bereft of the concern for the poor and the people who have suffered most over the past three decades and in recent period.
Now that the Eid is over, there is an urgent need to reflect about our failures as a community. It is incumbent on us that while we go about celebrating Eid or any other festival, we also remember the thousands of the victims of ongoing turmoil and contribute in a material way to lessen their misery.
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