Incentivizing stone-pelters can prove Achilles heel for BJP
JAMMU: Populist politics is again at foreplay in Kashmir with Chief Minister signaling her administration to review the cases of stone-pelters, violence mongers and anti-national elements, who took over the command of the Valley for nearly 150 days. For all these traumatic days the government found itself packed in a few Secretariat rooms in Srinagar with the writ of teenagers running large across the Valley, who left 4,113 security personnel-3,537 police personnel and 556 CRPF jawans-injured and two of them martyred. During these crucial five months, 131 structures, including police stations and schools, were damaged in mob violence. The Kashmir unrest has been a darkest phase of anti-India campaign in the Valley during the past 27 years which witnessed 2,380 incidents of violence. Mehbooba Mufti’s government had registered 2,602 FIRs against anti-national elements and arrested 5,084 persons while 6,681 were still wanted in different cases of violence. Will the hunt for wanted persons continue when the top political executive wants their cases to be reviewed?
Mehbooba Mufti is reported to have told her officers that though not many youths are in custody now, a lenient view may be taken of youths who were either not involved in any serious offence, or were too young. Is this admission of her government that innocents and teenagers have been booked and put behind the bars? If so, then human rights activists and separatists have a point to corner the government and malign the Indian nation for atrocities in Kashmir. In a way, the Chief Minister is giving leverage to those crying hoarse over human rights violations. But the fact is not what Mehbooba Mufti is saying. What she is saying is just to retrieve the lost space for her PDP in radicalised Kashmir, which, while taking over the reins of governance with the BJP, had expressed gratitude to separatists and Pakistan for allowing peaceful elections that led them to cradle of power.
What has prompted the State Government to review the cases of anti-national elements even as the situation has nearly returned to normal because of fatigue and indifference of the Centre? For the first time in the nearly three decades, the Valley happenings have been treated differently with no appeasement or concession. The response of New Delhi to the Kashmir unrest has terribly hurt the pride of Azadi seekers, who were abiding by the weekly calendars with the hope that freedom was just around the corner. Even serious sections of Kashmir society had started believing in what Syed Ali Shah Geelani and company are making them to believe for decades.
The Srinagar announcement of the Chief Minister is a wake-up call for the BJP to redraw its strategy on the face of respectability being given to stone-pelters, who are substitute to terrorists. The BJP must understand that stone pelting has been glamourised in Kashmir to such an extent that a few computer savvy amongst the pelters and their invisible supporters had created Facebook accounts- ‘I am a stone pelter’; ‘Kashmir-the Intifada’ etcetera. The Over Ground Workers and supporters of the stone-pelters have unleashed a sinister campaign on social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube by disseminating selective videos and pictures to hoodwink and mislead the world opinion against India. The ploy was to portray Kashmir as a disturbed area, if not a terror struck region. Terrorism is a red rag for the US and West- front runners in global war against terrorism. Therefore, Pakistan and its infamous ISI had substituted guns by stones so as to keep Kashmir boiling. The ploy worked. Stone pelting drew attention across the world. According to B. Raman, a former head of counter-terrorism for India’s intelligence service, “What we are witnessing in certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir is the beginning of an Intifada.” Intifada, an Arabic word literally meaning “shaking off”, though popularly translated into English as uprising, resistance or rebellion. It is often used as a term for popular resistance to oppression.
Syed Ali Geelani has publicly supported stone-pelting, saying this sort of protest is even being carried out in Europe as well. He has been terming it as anger and hate of Kashmiri youth for uniformed security and police personnel. This has not been only encouragement to street urchins but provocation too. This being the motivation and strategy to keep security forces engaged and world opinion engrossed why the State Government should even think of reviewing the cases of those who virtually waged a war against the nation. Should the BJP be a party to such a review just because it wants saffron presence in Kashmir?