Distressing Situation

THE fresh killings of the three policemen and the two militants on Monday have once again brought into sharp relief the extraordinary situation that Kashmir has been facing over the last two months  And as the continuous violence underlines, there seems no end to it. The situation has been no different since the rollback of Article 370 in August 2019.  An estimated 366 militants, 96 civilians, 81 security personnel have died in the period.  And many more local youth have joined militancy since then. In addition, there has also been some new infiltration to supplement the local recruitment.

In Jammu’s Rajouri and Poonch, the militants recently killed around fourteen security personnel and escaped untraced.  But New Delhi remains indifferent to the state of affairs, so do the large sections of national media which, as always, plies a distorted picture of the ongoing situation. It is apparent from the terms used to describe the killings in the state. More so, on the television channels. They give such a simplified and stereotyped representation of the situation. This only complicates rather than aids the understanding of what is happening in Kashmir.

As for condemnations, it has become a ritual now  And by Kashmir standards, if we start condemning all deaths, it will become a full-time job for any organization. For then we have to do it everyday, twice a day with all the killings happening around us. The condemnations will also be selective, depending on which side of the ideological divide you are on. The issue, however, is not the condemnation, the issue is what do we do about the situation that leads to everyday killings. But nobody will talk about that.

Such a muddled situation makes opinions and positions in Kashmir an inherently fraught affair. The union government is not helping the matters by refusing to engage Kashmiris politically. The last several years have witnessed an exclusive security-centric approach towards Kashmir. The objective has been to eliminate insurgency by attempting to kill all the militants within a specific timeframe. Viewed from that perspective, the security agencies have been exceptionally successful over the last two years. It is expected that the killings of the militants at this rate could drastically reduce their number. This, in turn, is expected to alter the political dynamics in Valley and usher in peace.

But the deeper factors underpinning the current state of affairs will linger on and can be expected to create conditions for yet another phase of violence and unrest. This has been the case over the past three decades. The militancy has gone through its crests and troughs but has never been wiped out. And same has been the case with the public unrest.  The future looks uncertain in Kashmir. And things are unlikely to look up unless New Delhi fundamentally changes its approach to the situation and moves away from a security-centric approach to empathy and engagement.

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