A case of rape is a serious enough matter. A case of rape in Jammu and Kashmir is, as authorities have known for decades, incendiary. After the bodies of two women were found in Shopian last month, the initial reaction from the authorities in Srinagar was knee-jerk. A week later, it was confirmed that this reaction — that the post-mortems did not indicate rape and murder but death by drowning — was wrong. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah made a turnaround and admitted as much. What we expected would follow was justice being done and the guilty being brought to book. A month after the deaths, and since the Forensic Science Laboratory report confirming the rape and murder of the two women was made public in June 7, little headway has been made to find the killers. Instead, another conflagration has flared up in Kashmir, this time in Baramulla, over the allegation made by a woman that she was asked to stay overnight at a police station. In the protests that have followed, two locals have already died in the police firing. Mr Abdullah can’t afford to let matters slide and come to a natural closure. His government must quell more outbreaks that are likely to follow by finding the perpetrators of the Shopian incident and be seen to deliver justice.
The situation in J&K had, till last month, improved on the streets the breeding grounds of past discontent. The troubling matter of government land for Amarnath yatra camps was, despite what one expected, not as much of a problem as the current imbroglio. What the latest incidents have highlighted is the heightened tension between the Kashmiri street and the administration. This is not something that can or should be brushed under the carpet. It would make political and ethical sense for Mr Abdullah to insist on bringing this unsavoury matter to a close. New Delhi, on its part, should realise that any complacency on this issue, would be disastrous on the Srinagar-New Delhi front in the long run.
The State and its people had recovered a social contract. Justice, not to mention everyday life, was supposed to have got back on the rails in Jammu and Kashmir. If anything disrupting this situation is not handled and brought to a closure, the authorities should not blame anyone but themselves for bringing Kashmir to a boil once again.