The saga in the valley goes on! The murder of Lt Ummer Fayaz, an Indian Army officer aged 22, while he was unarmed and attending a wedding last week, has left Indians jolted. It has been described as “a cowardly act”, “a Watershed moment”! The murder of Ummer Fayaz is not just another mark in the tally of causalities by Indian soldiers in the valley; it takes terrorism in Kashmir to yet another level. Nothing less than a dark progression of terrorism!
The story of Ummer Fayaz is too tragic to be put in words. On a leave from the Indian Army to attend a cousin’s wedding, the 22-year-old officer was kidnapped from his relative’s house by five or six terrorists on the evening of 9th May and his bullet-riddled body was found the next morning. It is alleged that the incident was an implicit message to Kashmiri Muslims not to join or cooperate with the Indian state. Lt. Ummer Fayaz paid the price of taking the courage to join the Indian Army.
Recently three soldiers were killed and one mutilated by Pakistan after it crossed the Line of Control. The morale of the anti national forces got a boost and India had to postpone the by elections in Anantnag. The election was cancelled for the second time, raising lots of questions about legitimacy of democracy in the valley. Various protests too have been casting doubt on the effectiveness of the government in Jammu & Kashmir. Protest through stone pelting by youth has been a daily affair ever since the change of government there. Government of India along with the state government led by Mehbooba Mufti has adopted various ways to curb the situation. Among others it went on for a proxy ban on social networking during law and order situations. A measure in the past that failed to contain youth in the valley. On the contrary, it brought its Internet-savvy generation out only to join the stone-pelting brigades. The measure adopted by the authorities was based on a trend, that social media has been used by many Kashmiris as a tool to voice political sentiments and organize protest India, and stone pelting against the security forces. Indian government has been maintaining that stone pelting is something which goes beyond misuse of social networking and alleged funding across the border. The new act in which young school girls have taken to stone pelting shows the desperation of both sides. An Army officer rightly put it while speaking to media at Delhi. “These kids none older than 16 despair of their lives, seem to crave shahadat (martyrdom). Please tell me how do you expect the Indian Army to fight school children? Does any honorable Army do that”. Indeed that is a precarious situation for India. Already in a tight corner for having called off the by-elections in Anantnag , not once but twice, it seems to be running out of options. Perhaps the will too is missing.
The fact is that Kashmir has always been turbulent and after the PDP/BJP alliance came to power, things took a turn for worse. The alliance was not a natural choice. The two parties came together to rule though ideologically they are poles apart, and hence their interest in Kashmir are different and limited too.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has adopted a stance that things would improve once militancy is finished, hence she wants the security agencies to be active and hence any political intervention for talks as an option stands ruled out, while she is perceived as being soft to the extremists. She wants the forces to do the most while she remains in hibernation. At the same time, the very fact that Narendra Modi’s government has continued to follow its predecessor’s policy of indecisiveness on Pakistan punctuated by occasional action against the perpetrators of terror from Pakistan, can’t be ignored. India is being watched, India’s action and its indecisiveness is under question, thus putting the legitimacy of Mufti government under question. The real tragedy for Kashmir is that Modi government is indulging in maximum publicity without delivering anything on the ground. There is minimal thought, mixed with more of muscle flexing at various TV channels. Caught in the middle are the Indian Army and the people of the Valley. Pakistan has gauged the situation well, and has become more reckless in its misadventures against India and terrorist are getting bolder.
Political situation is not in sight, neither the state government led by Mehbooba Mufti or Narendra Modi’s government at center seems to be interested. Chief Minister Mufti for sure wants to remains at an arms distance from the situation, knowing very well that she has nothing to gain. At the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi having completed three years in office and is more interested in making gains for 2019 elections. He too knows that Kashmir region can give him votes, where Jammu would be supporting his party. He would want to cash on the present situation leaving an all important question – Who is taking care of Kashmir? The saga is set to go on!