Shopian fallout !

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If anything, fresh killings at Shopian have once again attested to the fragility of the situation in Kashmir. Just when there are signs that the situation is becoming normal, a violent incident comes along to reverse the progress. The fallout of Shopian is before us:  Kashmir  once again observed hartal. Schools which were about to re-open on Monday after two and a half month long winter vacation were closed for three more days. The ongoing Kashmir Administrative Service Examinations were deferred. And parts of South Kashmir and Srinagar were put under security lockdown and the internet similarly shutdown.

The protests in parts of South Kashmir almost  threatened to tip Kashmir into yet another turmoil. The groups of youth took to the streets at Pulwama, Awantipora  Tral and Shopian and in many  villages to protest the killings. In many areas, the mosque loudspeakers called on people to express their solidarity with the families of the victims. Hurriyat  also called for a march to Shopian on Wednesday, a move that  prolonged the troubled situation and in turn threatened the peace during spring, the season when tourists start wending their way back to the Valley. According to the government’s economic survey report recently tabled in the state assembly, the last year saw the lowest number of tourists visiting J&K in the past six years – bulk of them comprising pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi and Amarnath shrines.

And with the violence showing little signs of abating, omens are not good for this year too. According to an estimate, 45 people including 15 security personnel, 19 militants and 10 civilians have lost their lives since January. With more than 200 active militants in Kashmir, the frequency of the encounters and the consequent violence is likely to increase which will detrimentally impact the state of affairs. The civilian killings always become a cause for a mass disaffection.  And the state government despite assurances to the contrary hasn’t been able to put a stop to the killings.  And after the Supreme Court intervened to stay the FIR against the Major Aditya Kumar for his alleged role in the earlier civilian killings in Shopian, the state government has more or less lost power to pursue action of even an ornamental nature against the erring security personnel.    

The civilian killings are thus likely to remain a constant feature of the ongoing turmoil. In past, such killings have chiefly been responsible for pushing the state over the edge. Some amount of accountability for the security personnel responsible for these killings would have gone a long way to address the simmering public  anger but the Supreme Court has now made it more difficult for the state government to intervene in the event of a human rights violation. One would hope that the outcome of the Major Aditya’s petition leaves some scope for the state government’s role. Doing away with it will further add to the environment of impunity in the state, more so in the Valley.

 

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