In less than 48 hours after his Law Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar slammed the CRPF over the killing of a youth in Sopore on Sunday, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tried to shift the blame to “anti-national and vested interests” for the trouble.
But the damage was done.
A trust deficit has occurred between the government and the security forces. This is evident from the way the two sides have reacted in public in the wake of the current trouble.
Sagar had condemned the CRPF for its “unwarranted” action.
And this is not the first time that he has spoken against the security forces. In the aftermath of an alleged fake encounter at Machail this year, close to the Line of Control (LoC), where three villagers were killed, Sagar had told the media: “The manner in which the youth have been killed gives the impression that the troops have the licence to kill Kashmiris.”
Abdullah observed that such incidents were “aberrations”, but not before he had made the similar complaint to Home Minister P. Chidambaram on the similar issue on Sunday night.
The problem is both the sides spoke to the media rather than settling issues through discussion.
The CRPF reacted sharply to the charges. “The force’s action was in self-defence,” Director-General Vikram Srivastava told a TV channel, rebutting the charges.
And, Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai concurred. He told a news channel that the CRPF hit back when it was attacked. "The force has been extremely restrained.”
“In a place where curfew is imposed, people break the curfew, go ahead and attack police posts and CRPF posts. I don't think you can call them by any stretch of imagination innocent civilians.”
Earlier, Abdullah too had taken on the Army after the Machail incident, criticising it for acting as “the judge, the jury and the executioner in the state”.
This had provoked a strong reaction from the Northern Command chief, Lt. Gen. B S Jaswal, again through the media. He described the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, against which the state government and other political parties had raised the pitch, as a “ pious document”.
And in a direct response to charges against the Army, he had said: "Sorry for saying this, but a lot of clichés are used in describing the Army. The circumstances under which the Army functions are not known to people, to say that he (the soldier) is jury at that stage and he is the hangman, I think we are stretching things a bit too far.”