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How Political & Administrative Constraints Create Barriers To Curb Unrest In Kashmir

Is the situation in Jammu & Kashmir beyond redemption? If political constraints and administrative sanctions are yardsticks to gauge the situation in the valley, the answer is in the affirmative

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Is the situation in Jammu & Kashmir beyond redemption? If political constraints and administrative sanctions are yardsticks to gauge the situation in the valley, the answer is in the affirmative.

Neither political parties nor administrative setups can afford to exercise counter-offensive measures against non-democratic forces in the State. While the political parties in power in the State have reasons to play down the unrest carried out by the Pakistan-supported Hurriyat Conference in particular, security forces can hardly exercise coercive measures since they have to follow set norms.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference that comprises 26 political, social and religious groups has impeccable credentials to upset law and order in the State while working in tandem with opposition parties at the promptings from Pakistan. The past bears testimony to the fact that the PDP has a nexus with the Hurriyat Conference and they were hand-in-glove to dislodge the National Conference Government of Omar Abdullah in the State. During the erstwhile regime of Omar Abdullah in the State, the BJP-sponsored bandh call was supported by the PDP and Hurriyat Conference as well. Subsequently, the PDP had a tacit electoral deal with the Hurriyat Conference in the State Assembly elections to wrest power from the National Conference.
Notably, it was Hurriyat leader Abdulh Ghani Bhatt who was instrumental in forming the PDP-BJP coalition Government in the State while holding a meeting with the BJP's central leadership in New Delhi.

Even the then ruling party National Conference had claimed that the PDP and BJP had nexus with Hurriyat Conference. Addressing a public meeting, NC leader Ajay Sadhotra observed 'on the one hand Hurriyat Conference and PDP are calling and supporting bandh in Kashmir and on the other hand BJP is calling for Bandh in Jammu.'

Interestingly, on earlier occasions, the BJP had, however, been averse to the activities of the Hurriyat leaders and had cancelled foreign secretary-level talks reacting to the meeting between Hurriyat leaders and Pakistan's High Commission authorities. The BJP had raised objections over the Hurriyat leaders' secret parleys with Pakistani diplomats ahead of any summit between India and Pakistan. Subsequently, setting all principles at rest, the BJP endorsed the Hurriyat Conference's proposal to support the PDP to form the coalition Government in the State.

Although with the formation of a coalition Government with the support of the BJP under the leadership of the PDP, the latter is supposed to have severed its association with the Hurriyat, the reason behind the virtual inaction by the PDP-led Government against radical forces such as Hurriyat Conference during the on-going unrest is well understandable. In the backdrop of their mutual-interest to coalesce with against the then National Conference Government in the State in 2010 on the issue of the fake encounters of three civilians and the consequent move by the PDP to wrest power with the support of Hurriyat leaders, the PDP appears to have been left with no option except to turn a blind eye towards the unscrupulous acts by the Hurriyat Conference by holding back on action during the on-going crisis.

Incidentally, the situation that confounded the on-going unrest in the valley is, by and large, a sequel to what the State witnessed in 2010. If radical forces are cashing-in on the situation by dubbing slain militant Burhan Wani as innocent to stoke violence in the valley, they had left no stone unturned in 2010 too to fuel the issue of the fake encounter of three civilians by the army. When the claim made by the Indian Army in June 2010 of killing three Pakistani infiltrators turned out to be false, the valley witnessed a series of violent protests under the leadership of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of the Hurriyat Conference. They called for complete demilitarization of Jammu and Kashmir and shouted pro-independence slogans, defied curfew, attacked police with stones and burnt vehicles and buildings. Subsequently, PDP -- that was in the opposition then -- lent its voice to the protest and the PDP patriarch, late Mufti Mohammad Syed had claimed "the Chief Minister as the head of unified command can't escape his responsibilities in this organized racket".

The violence that continued for nearly four months claimed at least 112 lives including that of many teenagers and an 11-year-old boy as well. Peace in the valley could be restored in September 2010 after the Government offered a package of upto Rs.10,00000/- (ten lakh) to the families of each victim, much against the wishes of the Hurriyat Conference that asked the beneficiaries to deny the compensation package. Many senior army officials were sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of conducting a fake encounter to get fat rewards.

The recent attempts to vitiate peace in the valley are supposed to be 'replica' of the conspiracy hatched by Pakistan by proxy in 2010. Like the 2010 unrest, Hurriyat leaders are trying to declare the militant leader Wani as innocent ostensibly at the behest of Pakistan that raised the issue of Wani's killing on international forums claiming that he was innocent. However, the PDP that is in power in the State at present and had lent its voice to Hurriyat Conference against the fake encounters of three innocent during the erstwhile regime of Omar Abdullah in 2010 is in a quandary to deal with the situation. This reluctance by the ruling PDP to initiate action against the rioters is believed to have provided an impetus to the ulterior motives of Pakistan to keep Kashmir burning. The PDP is, if fact, no longer strong enough to survive without the support of the Hurriyat in the valley if it is ousted from power.

Consequently, the PDP has been displaying its political overtures towards the Hurriyat by withholding oppressive action against the on-going violence in the valley. Pakistan that is carrying out a proxy war from across the border while working in tandem with Hurriyat leaders is supposed to be enjoying the implicit support from the powers-that-be. As per intelligence reports, the PDP can neither afford to launch counter offensive measures against the Pakistan-sponsored violence with the fear of losing support of the Hurriyat Conference nor can it initiate steps to resolve the crisis amicably much against the wishes of Hurriyat Conference that has been drafted by Pakistan to keep the subversive exercises alive in the valley. The Hurriyat Conference aims to replay its role of 2010 as it had gained major political mileage by spearheading a violent movement for about four months with the support of Pakistan.

Similar to the political constraints, the security forces are unable to act against radical forces indulging in violence. It is said that police cannot swing into action mainly for two reasons: first, they fear punitive action under the human rights act like those of 2010 incident and second, they are rendered helpless for want of substantial arms and required administrative sanctions to deal with untoward incidents. Result: they prefer to remain noncommittal even in case of being attacked by unbridled mobs. If well-placed sources at one of the intelligence agencies in New Delhi are to be believed, a mob of about two thousand militants laid siege to a police station in J & K recently and forced the police personnel on duty to surrender their arms. Subsequently, all 12 policemen were taken hostage. Of them, four have been freed while the rest are still missing.

To top it all, the pertinent question that baffles the minds of many is whether the political parties -- including the All Parties Hurriyat Conference -- would be able to skip dictates from across the border to subvert the system in India and consolidate their grip over the lunatic fringe who have been dancing to the tune of Pakistan for pecuniary gains?