Dithering Omar Seen To Be Encouraging Troublemakers8 July 2010
Times of India
New Delhi: With sustained violence and curfew in Srinagar and parts of Kashmir threatening to undo the Army's success in curbing militancy and the near-normalcy in terms of a booming tourist season, the Centre is hoping that chief minister Omar Abdullah will pick up the separatist gauntlet. The chief minister's decision to call an all-party meeting is seen as a step in the right direction as it is felt he needs to urgently build political consensus and take on trouble-makers. Issuing clear instructions to Jammu and Kashmir police would help end a sense of ambiguity hampering police action in dealing with the situation. The Centre has been urging that Abdullah take steps to strictly enforce curfew to first signal zero tolerance for disrupters out to keep the Valley on the boil. This would need close cooperation between paramilitary and police as Army can only have a demonstrative effect. The use of Army in law and order activities is not seen to be advisable. As the impression has gained ground that Abdullah retreated in the face of separatist protests and violence, blaming CRPF for being out of control, the chief minister took the path of least resistance. In the infamous Shopian case too, he first rubbished murder theories, then backtracked, coming down with a heavy hand on the police with a CBI inquiry finally clearing the cops of any malafide. But meanwhile, the SP of Shopian and other police officials spent a few months in jail for no fault of theirs. If in the Shopian case, he should have waited for investigation to progress - even if he knew charges of rape and murder of two women to be baseless - in the current instance, he allowed political rivals and separatists to browbeat him. The role of Pakistan and organisations backed by it in swiftly fanning the fires sparked by killing of young men in CRPF firing underlines the need for quick and decisive action. Overground supporters of outfits like Lashkar are well-practised in seizing upon such incidents to fan a deep sense of grievance in a section of Kashmiris. Dealing with those bent on violence needs a resolute mind. Apart from the political intent, there may be a case to review tactics and equipment as well. The J&K police and CRPF may need the large transparent fibreglass shields that are used by foreign police forces in dealing with very violent protestors. Though in some instances the CRPF had no option but to fire in self-defence, the shooting deaths did play into the hands of separatists. There are no easy solutions to this as often, funeral processions are a launching pad for fresh violence. A more systematic approach to stone throwers by maintaining an exhaustive record and repeatedly booking offenders could drive home the point.