Five more civilians have lost their lives since the ceasefire ended on June 17. Yawar Ahmad Dar, a 21 year old son of a scrap dealer was killed on Sunday when government forces fired at protestors at Thokrpora-Qaimoh. And all of them have died during the protests at the encounter sites. These killings have now become a new normal in Kashmir. There is little outrage let alone any steps being taken to prevent their occurrence encounter after encounter. The government looks at the situation in law and order terms. This rationalizes the killings of the civilians who are said to disrupt fire-fights.
But the truth is it is not a law and order problem at all. The recurrent public protests near the encounter sites are the latest manifestation of a much larger and a long-festering political problem in the state. While it is nobodys case to expect the state government to take steps to resolve the problem as this is far beyond its remit, this realization needs to inform and nuance its response to the deteriorating security situation in the state.
With the people protesting near the encounter sites becoming a pattern, Government with all the resources at its disposal and with some better preparation, can certainly prevent the civilian killings. But that this is not being done speaks to the banalization of the civilian killings in Kashmir. This is something that the government is happy to rationalize in terms of the law and order necessity of the moment. This is a sad state of affairs and explains why more things change in Kashmir, more they remain the same.
In fact, the government by resorting to an exclusive law and order approach has only worsened the situation. Let alone dialogue or a political engagement, even the leadership has largely been absent. If a turnaround is to be expected, the government needs to move beyond the security paradigm which has only perpetuated the cycle of death and destruction. On Monday, the Valley observed shutdown against the killings on Hurriyat call. Mainstream leaders too have expressed their anguish at the increasing killings. But considering the prevailing state of affairs, there is little hope that the situation will change. Centre has now resolved on a more muscular policy as the only game-plan to address the deteriorating situation. But if the massive funerals of the slain militants are anything to go by, the situation is only worsening by the day. While acting muscular towards Kashmir may politically suit the BJP in the rest of the country - more so in the run up to the general elections next year - it threatens to push Kashmir to the edge of an all-out chaos.
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