With the Union home ministry rushing to execute Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, two central interlocutors appointed by the Manmohan Singh government at the peak of the 2010 street protests have warned that the hurried execution was going to widen the “trust deficit” between New Delhi and Srinagar.
Dileep Padgaonkar, who headed the panel of interlocutors, said the urgent priority would be to see if the separatists and elements on both sides of Kashmir are able to exploit the hanging as they did with the hanging of JKLF leader Maqbool Bhatt in the eighties.
He also cautioned against misinterpreting the uneasy calm on the streets or trying to handle it as a law and order problem, recalling that there was a similar calm in the days and weeks after Bhatt’s hanging too that blew up in New Delhi’s face much later.
Both Padgaonkar and Prof MM Ansari, his colleague in the panel that wound up after submitting its report, pointed that the hanging would widen the trust deficit. After the initial promises of action on their report, the home ministry has put the voluminous document on the back burner.
While Padgaonkar argued for the need for the State to show determination to send a strong message to terrorists, he did make it a point to emphasise that the same determination should be shown in other cases as well.
“Our hopes for bridging the trust deficit have shattered,” Ansari lamented, worrying that the Centre may have undone everything forward movement to resolve the J&K issue.
“There is deep conviction in the Valley that the trial was unfair, that due process was not followed right up to the end in letter and spirit… that other convicts have still not been sent to the gallows,” Padgaonkar said.