July 2016 News

Kashmir On Boil Again, Unclear Who's Stirring Pot

13 July 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arun Joshi

Jammu: The truth of Kashmir today is that it is different from the summer of 2008, when protests were held against the transfer of ownership of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board, and from the summer of 2010, when a student's killing had triggered violent unrest. There are no demands and no one is sure about what will happen next. Friday, the day of congregational prayers, will be the litmus test of how the summer unfolds. That Kashmir is burning is an understatement. The flames leaping out of police stations, Syed Ali Shah Geelani's call not to attack such installations notwithstanding, and the street violence and 34 deaths point to a grim situation. There's a bigger concern: the anger of the youth, on brazen display following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last Friday. To those who question whether one militant leader's death could be the sole reason for the violence and killings, there are no easy answers. A taxi driver puts in his perspective: 'Wani used to be active on Facebook, you know, every youngster had his picture in the mobile phone.' Separatists had warned of a major agitation after Eid, celebrated last week, but were unsure about how to pull it off. Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had spoken of a massive agitation if the government failed to clarify its position on the setting up of 'Sainik Colony' and townships for migrant Kashmiri Pandits. But within the separatist camp, there was no consensus on stirring the Kashmir cauldron. Their shutdown calls were receiving a mixed, almost tepid, response. In the aftermath of Wani's killing, separatists as well as Pakistan have attempted to own the near-spontaneous reaction of people, which has been so widespread that markets have remained shut for the first time in villages in the past 26 years of unrest. However, the separatists have so far achieved little success in gaining control of the unrest, Geelani's appeal not to attack police stations a case in point. The bitter truth is that Burhan Wani, 21 - with a few pictures and two videos - has singularly managed to almost demolish the effort of the state and Central governments to win the hearts and minds of people.