With the withdrawal of security cover of 919 previously protected persons, the government has once again let it be known that it has little inclination to let up on its muscular policy on the state. In fact, the government seems intent on reinforcing it with every passing day. The past month has witnessed a series of measures which have incrementally tightened the stranglehold in the Valley. It began with an all out operation against the militants through action against separatist groups to now an assault on the common people. Barring them from their only highway for two days a week is an unprecedented step and a collective punishment. It has turned life upside down and is already inviting comparisons with some infamous historical precedents in the world. From the once ‘the state versus insurgency’ the government handling of Kashmir is now looking more and more like ‘the state versus the people’. What is more, the government is going blithely about the policy without being bothered about its consequences. In fact, the policy now borders on the contempt of the people and is thus singularly unmindful and unperturbed by its fallout on the ground.
Withdrawing security to so many people is a bizarre twist to the existing hardline policy. According to the government order this has freed 2,768 police personnel and 389 vehicles.
Apart from separatist leaders whose security has already been withdrawn, most of these protected people are political workers or the activists who stood for the cause of the government in the state. But the state has gone on to withdraw security to them too, in a sense, obliterating the difference between them and the separatist leaders. The new government approach to Kashmir thus seems solely geared to hold on to the land without caring much about the people. At one level, this sad state of affairs is a comment on the BJP’s handling of Kashmir over the past five years. The situation has now gone so far out of control that the centre has chosen to secure the land and forget about the people.
But the question is whether this policy is sustainable. And whether alienating and invisibilizing the people from its outlook on Kashmir would usher in the peace? Past five years are already a proof that this certainly is not a path to resolution of turmoil in the state. In fact, as the existing situation amply demonstrates, this is a path to disaster. The anger against the state which earlier could be said to be a dominant feature of the public life in J&K is now endemic. And persisting with the policy will only make matters even worse.
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