Kashmir Turmoil, Right and Wrong

The state of Jammu and Kashmir, to be precise Kashmir valley, is in turmoil following execution of Burhan Wani. A local Hizbul commander, Burhan had openly asked Kashmiri youth to join the struggle for Azadi. Killing of Burhan Wani by security forces had brought men, women and children on the streets protesting. Protesters had attacked and burnt police station, attacked police force, killed a police officer by pushing his vehicle into river. Protestors had also burnt the house where Burhan was killed. They have razed the orchard of the owner of the house. 
Police force had responded to protest by firing shot gun whose cartridge when explode release hundreds of small pellets. These pellets are generally non lethal but if they enter eyes they may cause blindness. It is reported that many young people were treated in hospitals of Kashmir for eye related injury. As many of forty protestors had died in retaliatory fire. 
Many questions have been raised about killing of Burhan Wani and government handling of protest in Kashmir. 

  • Noted lawyer and civil right activist Mr. Prashant Bhushan had expressed his doubt on Burhan Wani killing by claiming it could be a fake encounter.
  • MrMuzaffar Baig a minister in present PDP government had claimed killing of Burhan Wani violated supreme court guideline. There was no magistrate present when encounter took place. Burhan Wani should have been caught instead of being killed. 
  • Others have expressed outrage for using pellet guns on protestors that lead to blindness. Leader of opposition in parliament, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad had hoped that government would stop use of pellet guns in Kashmir. Others have attributed motive to the use of pellet gun in Kashmir but not in other parts of India like during jat violence in Haryana.
To put things in perspective, use of pellet gun was not introduced in 2016 in Jammu and Kashmir to quell violent protests. Actually, pellet guns were introduced in August of 2010 when National Conference was in power in the state and UPAII was in power at the centre. So it is neither fair nor accurate to say pellet guns were used in 2016 when BJP lead NDA came to power. Pellet gun was introduced as a nonlethal weapon vis a vis other type of weapons.

It is unfair to compare protest in Kashmir with Jat agitation in Haryana or during Dalit agitation in Gujarat. Such an argument has implicit implication that police /security forces are biased against Kasmiri people? We can argue that police during Jat agitation were inept or incompetent at best complicit with rioter. Mostly they did nothing, when Jat mob was burning property and business of non Jat people. Protestors did not attack police.  When jats announced a second protest, chief minister had said strict action will be taken against hooligans. Fortunately, events did not turn ugly. Similarly, in Gujarat protestors attacked public property like a bus. Protestors did not attack police. 

Kashmir on the other hand had a history of violence against security forces. Mob comprising of men, women, children attack police with stone. Terrorists use mob as a shield and throw grenade at security forces. As a result, security forces have to come prepared expecting mob violence and respond accordingly. According to report, in 2016, around 40 protestors died, 2000 injured and more than 100 had suffered injury to eye with resultant loss of vision. In the same period, 1022 CRPF personnel were injured. Of this 956 were injured in pelting of stones in the Valley between July 8-16 during the unrest. For the rest of the year from January 1 to July 7, 22 were injured in pelting of stones and 44 injured in grenade blasts. 

Burhan Wani was a self confessed Hizb commander. His mentor  Syed Salauddin aspires to create a Caliphate along with LeT and JeM. They aspire freedom from India to create an Islamic supremacist organisation. One can shed tears for Burhan’s parents. Burhan’s Wani was a terrorist and hardcore jihadi. It is futile to debate if a terrorist should be arrested in the presence of a magistrate or if the killing was extrajudicial. India has paid very high price in the past for jailing and not liquidating Maulana Masood Azhar.

I feel sad and sorry for parents of Burhan Wani. They lost their son. I feel for protestors losing eye sight or life as a result of police firing. At the same time, violence had not been one sided. Many security personnel have also got injured. Finally, Indian security forces must use less damaging alternative to pellet gun to control riot in Kashmir and anywhere else in the country. Home minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh has also indicated the same. 

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