While militancy in Kashmir has been down for some years now, another crisis has gripped the Valley in recent times. Street protests and violent demonstrations by civilians, particularly young men, have become the order of the day.
The Valley has been seething with rage over the rape and murder of two young women in Shopian since their bodies were found in a canal on May 30.
The killing of four youths, allegedly in CRPF firing in Baramulla on June 29, added fuel to the fire that spread from south to north.
The disappearance of 18-year-old boy Basharat Ahmad from Fatehpore in Anantnag on July 1 (he was later found unconscious on July 4) gave further impetus to the protests, engulfing the eastern parts (Anantnag, Kokernag and Verinag).
After two days of relative calm, protesters went on a rampage on Wednesday after the body of a missing youth was found in Srinagar.
Events are taking place at such a pace that the authorities are yet to douse the flames of one incident before another one overtakes them.
“It seems like a complete breakdown of law and order,” said Mohammad Ashraf Wani, a lawyer in the Srinagar High Court. “It is immaterial who kills whom. The question is that killings are taking place and people feel insecure,” he added.
A common refrain is that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has failed both admirers and ordinary people. He was adored as young and energetic but his six-month-old administration seems to have failed to make an impact. “Omar Abdullah is yet to make an impression...There seems to be no end to human rights violations,” said advocate A.U. Mir.
Abdullah, who has been an advocate of zero tolerance towards rights violations, is under flak for “failing” to rein in the law enforcing agencies.
And separatist groups are all out to take advantage. Offices, banks, courts and markets open and close at their behest.
Senior journalist and editor of the Urdu weekly Chattan, Tahir Mohiuddin, said, “The deteriorating law and order situation has put a big question mark on Omar’s credibility...”
The haplessness of the CM was evident when on July 1 he said, “Strikes make little difference to me. I go to my office daily and earn what I am supposed to earn. It is the common people who are affected by the shutdowns and protests.”