National Investigation Agency’s summons to Hurriyat M chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is an unprecedented step in the history of the three decade long turmoil in the state. The central probe agency has asked him to present himself before it in New Delhi for questioning. However, Mirwaiz’s counsel has cited the inability of Mirwaiz to visit New Delhi considering the “hostile environment” prevailing there.The summons to Mirwaiz followed a fortnight after the NIA raided his house and that of Naseem Geelani, the son of Hurriyat G chairman Syed Ali Geelani, who has also been called to Delhi. Post-Pulwama, the NIA has intensified its activities in Kashmir. Also, the state government, in recent weeks, has arrested scores of Jamaat-i-Islami leaders and workers. The organization too has been banned. The security of the Hurriyat leaders and many other political workers has either onebeen withdrawn or downgraded. This has only added to the prevailing sense of fear in the Valley.
At one level, this doubling down on a hard-line approach towards Kashmir goes against the common sense in the wake of the Pulwama attack which killed over 40 CRPF personnel. If anything, Pulwama attack represented the failure of the five year long muscular policy towards Kashmir. The policy of killing all the militants as the only way to usher in peace in Kashmir has backfired. Not only have number of militants risen, year on year, but the the public support for them has also overwhelmingly increased. Past five years have witnessed a unique phenomenon of people putting their lives on line to protect the militants trapped by security forces. Scores of civilians have been killed doing so. And who can forget the use of pellet guns which have completely or partially blinded more than a thousand people.
This militaristic approach to the state has saddled the Valley with a massive humanitarian fallout.This sort of situation called for a political engagement with Kashmir. But the centre has chosen to do everything but this. Now that the country has gone into election mode, centre is hardly going to change its tack on Kashmir. And considering that the Election Commission of India has decided to not hold Assembly polls simultaneously with the Parliament elections, the policy on Kashmir looks set to continue as it is, if the BJP government retains power at the centre. In fact, one important factor that is perceived to have played a role in delaying of Assembly polls is that the BJP might be wanting to retain a direct control over the state and govern it according to its now familiar policy on the state and expect the different result. One hopes that a better sense prevails in New Delhi after the elections, and the new government rethinks what has so far been a disastrous policy.