Jammu and Kashmir’s former chief minister and opposition leader Omar Abdullah on Wednesday charged the government with resorting to “unabated repression” of the people during the ongoing unrest in the Valley.
He said night raids, indiscriminate imposition of the Public Safety Act (PSA), ransacking people’s homes and burning their crops and animal fodder cannot be an acceptable way for the state’s security forces to deal with the political situation.
“Mass crackdown and unabated repression of civilians in Kashmir was unprecedented and seemed like an institutional effort to punish people for the current uprising,” the National Conference working president said in a statement.
Kashmir has been on boil for the past 89 days, since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. As many as 88 people have lost their lives in retaliatory action by security forces to contain the “pro-freedom” protesters during the unrest.
Abdullah said it was imprudent for the state government to expect that “nocturnal raids, PSAs, burning crops and fodder and destroying electric transformers would somehow lead to sustainable peace and normalcy”.
“Hundreds of electric transformers in rural areas have been damaged beyond repair in a clear attempt to persecute people en-masse by depriving them of essential services. People in rural areas are now trying to protect electric transformers in their areas with sand bags because security forces are firing bullets to damage them,” he said.
Abdullah said “persecuting” people of Kashmir based on a flawed assumption that such measures would somehow arm-twist people into peace and political adherence is a dangerous policy.
“New Delhi accepted that dialogue is the answer to the simmering discontent in Kashmir and their current assumption that the agitation can be seen off by tiring people is fraught with enormous risks because when the fatigue wears out — as it eventually will — the agitation will spark off again,” he said. “To deal with Kashmir as a cyclic problem of agitations and managing agitations defy the overarching interests of peace and prosperity.”
“You have to uphold the fundamental rights of the people in Kashmir, as is done in all other parts of the country, and the state’s intentional reluctance to do so fuel the perception of isolation and alienation in Kashmir. Treating all Kashmiris as hostile combatants who deserve to be persecuted into ‘discipline’ and coerced into ‘normalcy’ is a validation of those voices that question the state’s sincerity in dealing with the people of Kashmir fairly, humanely and in a just manner,” the statement said.