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Dangers of vigilante politics
Attack on pilgrims can be turned into opportunity
By Brij Bhardwaj
Attack on Amarnath Yatris in Kashmir may prove to be a turning point in Kashmir if the opportunity is seized by the State Government and the Center to open dialogue with moderate leaders and civil society. After a long time civil society and leaders of political parties including Hurriyat Conference have come forward to condemn the attack on Amarnath Yatris by Militants.

This has clearly shown that "Kashmiriyat" is not dead and many in Kashmir are prepared to carry on old traditions in which different communities have lived cheek to cheek in complete harmony. It needs to be realised that the Amarnath cave in which idol of Shiva is placed was discovered by a Muslim family.

More so to make the Yatra a success, hundreds of Kashmiris work as porters carrying pilgrims on their back. They also carry luggage of pilgrims and provide ponies for them. As such there is little doubt that the Yatra is a joint effort of different communities and a good example of harmony that has existed in Kashmir over the centuries which even the militants have not been able to break.

To start with killing of an innocent army officer on leave to attend the wedding of a cousin was condemned by a large section as locals have never been the target of militants in the past. It is no secret that in Kashmir families are closely linked and ties between those working for official agencies or some who take to militancy is not uncommon. This in many cases have helped militants having change of heart and returning to normal life.

The killing of army officer was followed by lynching of a police officer on duty in Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in Kashmir over which Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq presides. Mirwaiz family has played a important role in Kashmir and has been changing sides. For instance the grand uncle of the present Mirwaiz was deported to Pakistan by Sheikh Abdullah as he was opposed to ties with India. There was, however, a change when Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad took over and picked up father of present Mirwaiz who was a student in local college and installed him as head priest of Jama Masjid.

Father of present Mirwaiz changed sides many times with a simple goal to gain power in State. He supported Bakshi in poll to Lok Sabha against a candidate put up by Sheikh Abdullah. But in the next poll he joined Janata Dal followed by his joining hands with Farooq Abdullah and subsequently becoming convenor of the Hurriyat Conference. He was killed by militants who shot him in his residence as he was suspected of having started a dialogue with representatives of Government of India.

What happened in premises of a place of worship like lynching of a police officer has been condemned by civil society in general. Many friends of mine from Srinagar have conveyed that they were ashamed of it as they were present in the mosque when this horrible act took place. It is possible that all these horrible acts may make many in Kashmir think again about the direction in which the State is moving. After all killing of innocents cannot be justified under any circumstances and it is not different in Kashmir. While there is condemnation by all of attack on Yatris, questions are being asked about the security lapses which led to this tragedy. For instance a question being asked is why the Yatris from Gujarat travelling in the bus were not registered with official agencies and how could they be allowed to reach the shrine.

There are also questions about their travelling after the traffic had been stopped as a part of security requirements. The fact that the bus in question was travelling close to a bus carrying police personnel may have created misunderstanding about the identity of the pilgrims. The militants are trying to explain their action by claiming that police personnel were legitimate targets for them.

Irrespective of the debate about security lapses, the fact remains that such actions do not have the approval of average Kashmiris. It also should be realised that force is no solution of Kashmir problem and dialogue is the need of the hour. The current situation offers an opportunity which should be seized by the State and the Central Government.

(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)


News Updated at : Friday, July 14, 2017
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