April 2018 News

Mufti Government Must Ensure Safety Of Politicians In Kashmir

26 April 2018
Times of India

New Delhi: The 61-year-old BJP politician, Ghulam Nabi Patel, who was killed by Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists in Pulwama on Wednesday in broad daylight, is a reminder that Pakistan sponsored terror groups will continue to attack democratic process and politics in Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat elections, due since July 2016 when the term of the previous elected village representatives ended, have been postponed indefinitely after terror groups issued threats of violence. In the last panchayat polls in 2011, voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir was impressively around 79%. Greater public participation in democratic processes in Jammu and Kashmir is anathema to ISI-funded terror groups. The aim has always been to muzzle the voice of the people through intimidation and creation of fear psychosis, and thereby shrink space for mainstream politics. Since 1990, over 600 political activists and leaders of National Conference (NC), Congress and People's Democratic Party (PDP) have been killed in the Valley. In the last five years, 16 panchayat members have been killed and around 30 injured. Following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016, members of all political parties have been regularly targeted. While the security forces are doing a commendable job of fighting insurgency in Kashmir, sometimes at the cost of their own lives, the killings of political activists and civilians in Kashmir indicates that there are chinks in their armor. The three PSOs accompanying Patel, for example, were unarmed and got injured in the attack too. They had left their weapons at Patel's official residence. It is very unlikely Pakistani terror groups will change their tactics. In fact, as counter-insurgency operations have shown effective results, terror groups in desperation and frustration have intensified attacks on politicians and civilians. Jammu and Kashmir government must not let the security situation deteriorate further. It must beef up the security of politicians and ensure that democratic activity does not paralyze to the levels of the early 1990s.