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Break the cycle of violence now

india Updated: Sep 13, 2013 03:27 IST
Hindustan Times
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It was a magnificent moment, the notes of Beethoven's iconic fifth symphony lingering over the magical beauty of Dal Lake. For that short space of time, as Zubin Mehta conducted the Bavarian State Orchestra, all the violence and horror that is visited on Kashmir regularly seemed unreal.

But it is all too real as the violence sparked off by the killing of four young men in Shopian recently by the CRPF shows. So great is the anger over the killings - apparently, only one of the four was a suspected militant - that young people are even defying curfew to come out onto the streets to protest.

This, of course, is a shot in the arm for the separatists after their failed bid to stop the Zubin Mehta concert from taking place. Even the political parties have been critical of the CRPF's trigger-happy ways this time around.

Jammu and Kashmir's chief minister Omar Abdullah seems either unwilling or unable to act and contain the violence. In fact, despite many attempts, especially by the three independent interlocutors, to find some sort of formula for peace in Kashmir, nothing seems to have changed for the better.

Of course, the interlocutors' report was just one among many which have been framed on the Kashmir issue.

While the government is right in saying that a drastic reduction in military presence would be encouragement to the militants to strike at will, there has to be some check on the army and paramilitary forces.

The government should take a number of proactive steps, the major being employment generation for the youth. Having seen the way Pakistan has gone down the drain, it is most unlikely that Kashmiris feel any desire to be part of that country.

The separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani may feel some sort of allegiance to Pakistan, but he seems to forget that it is only because India is a democracy that he can stay here and express his views openly. But, this policy of waiting for each cycle of violence to end and the next to begin cannot go on.

The people are suffering and an entire generation has grown up with nothing but curfews and violent killings. The normalcy that most of India takes for granted is alien to Kashmir. The Centre needs to do a lot more in terms of infrastructure and investment in Kashmir.

For that the state government has to be far more proactive. The Omar Abdullah government seems to be running on auto pilot. We have not seen a single fresh initiative that the state government has taken to win over an embittered population. The separatists are able to capitalise on this.

If the interlocutors' suggestions were implemented, at least the ones about greater devolution of power and greater autonomy, a beginning could be made. The wait and watch policy may work elsewhere, but in Kashmir, it is absolutely counterproductive.