October 2000 News

J-K militants losing on ideological front

15 October 2000
The Indian Express
Arun Sharma

Srinagar: While militants may still cast a shadow of terror in Valley, they seem to be fighting a loosing battle on the ideaological front. At any given day in a restaurant in a busy bazar of Srinagar city, the beat of western music reverberates with young boys and girls gossiping over launch. Something that may have been unthinkable a few years ago. Outside the restaurant as well, life is ostensibly normal, with people busy going about their daily chores, college girls and young ladies sans burqas (veils). The familiar undercurrent of tension in the valley appears a little less palpable and it would be easy for an outsider to believe that the situation is either fast returning to normal, or that the people have learnt to live with the situation. Senior Security Forces and police officials maintain that the people have, by and large, started ignoring the threatening calls of militants. They are not as terrified of flouting imposed restrictions like the wearing of burqas by women, ban on various satellite channels like MTV and Zee (the latter after the failure of talks between the Hizbul Mujahideen and the centre), besides the ban on beauty parlours, any more. A number of beauty parlours still open shop despite the recent militant attack on two girls at a local beauty parlour. Most shops and other business establishments remain open till 8 pm, while pedestrian are seen returning home till 10 pm. Even late night parties have restarted, with people seen driving home during the wee hours of the morning in some parts of the city, a senior police officer said. Though tourists from outside coma in less numbers, tourist spota are abuzz with activity as local residents have started visiting the tourist resorts on weekends and holidays. A number of locals also admitted that the people have, of late, started ignoring the threatening calls of militants. Pointing out that all such calls were confined only to headlines, residents maintain that the militants have always faced opposition from the local people to their attempts to force women to wear burqas. With some residents, the attitude is veering towards rebelliousness. A local shopkeeper relates ''One of mu daughters has her hair cut and has been wearing pant shirt like boys. After the beauty parlour shoot out, when I told her to be careful, she told me that the militants can fire at her but she was not going to change.'' A senior police officer, however says that perturbed over their failure on the ideological front, the militants may take desparate attempts to step up violence. Though the militants are invisible in the capital city and the number of incidents of militant violence have reportedly decreased, militancy has become hi-tech since the beginning of this year, he points out.


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