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New Generation of Kashmir Conflict, Up Close and Personal

A post-fear world also is an unpredictable world. A lot of people News18 spoke to, for this story, claimed to be in-charge of the events unfolding in Kashmir, but no one could predict which direction the youth-led unrest was heading to.

Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, without actually saying the words, hinted at Kashmir being headed to a civil war. “New Delhi is pushing us so hard that the Hurriyat leadership will be forced to take radical measures and declare that instead of being killed in intervals, we come out and occupy the streets.”

I met a former LeT militant in Ganderbal who claimed that the momentum against the state would rise to “feverish pitch” very soon. The surrendered militant, perhaps not knowing that he was speaking to a Kashmiri Pandit, started the conversation by claiming how some militants had reached seventh heaven by killing pandits.

“The thing is there is support from all quarters for such a momentum. What’s required is a spark,” he said, talking about how encounter killing of a local Hizbul or LeT militant would see 2016 repeating itself.

Governor’s rule is not the solution. It will undo several years of progress of democracy in Kashmir.

— AS Dulat

While the year has not seen any big clash such as those witnessed in 2016, but more than 115 people have lost their lives already and the anger isn’t any less.

The anger could manifest itself in unforeseen ways.

The State Election Commission (SEC) has cancelled the bypolls in South Kashmir’s Anantnag seat after being denied the requisite security by New Delhi. But SEC cannot postpone the elections indefinitely.

Police officers, News18 spoke to, shuddered at the thought of managing elections in South Kashmir at this point of time.

The other big event is Amarnath Yatra. In two months from now, on June 29, the first batch of Amarnath Yatris will arrive in the valley. Though even last year the yatris were not harmed, no one knows how this year’s yatra will play out. All that’s required is a “spark”, as the Lashkar militant said.

On May 4, army carried out the “biggest combing operation” in past 15 years. More than 4000 personnel, including four battalions of Rashtriya Rifles (RR), eight companies of CRPF, and five platoons of J&K police, went through 20 villages in Shopian looking for terrorists.

But the combing operation, which came after back to back bank robberies and murders of policemen and bank guards in the area, achieved little. The large group of personnel were attacked with stones by locals. During their return, the army officers were ambushed by militants who managed to escape. In the gunfire exchange, a local driver was killed, which further enraged locals against security forces.

On May 6, BJP president Amit Shah hinted during a speech in Agartala that the government’s muscular policy in J&K will continue. The Modi government has already clarified before the Supreme Court that it would not hold any talks unless the violence stops in Jammu and Kashmir.

What is also not clear is how long this coalition, which is pulling itself in opposite directions, will survive. Every passing day the prospect of governor’s rule in J&K is looking more real. If imposed such a step could be disastrous, political analysts say.

“Governor’s rule is not the solution. It will undo several years of progress of democracy in Kashmir. Whatever PDP is, it needs to be supported by Delhi. Government should continue to be supported till its full term, 2020,” said AS Dulat.

In Albert Camus’ ‘The Plague’ at the end of a long fight against the epidemic when the town is celebrating, the protagonist Rieux knows that only a temporary victory has been achieved. “He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and enlightenment of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”

(More News18 Immersives)