Saving lives matters

Saving lives matters

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 22 April, 2017

Much din is being created over the “human rights violation” of the man tied in front of an Army vehicle in Kashmir. The Mehbooba Mufti government has added to the confusion by lodging an FIR in the incident, instead of congratulating the Army major involved for preventing a possible bloodbath. The major showed immense presence of mind and saved hundreds of Kashmiri lives by using Farooq Ahmad Dar as a human shield. The Army convoy was carrying civilians, who were in Budgam to hold elections. They came under attack from a stone-throwing mob numbering around a thousand—a mob that was baying for their blood. The soldiers were not conducting any offensive military operation. They were extricating civilians from a “conflict zone”. With the kind of firepower that soldiers have at their disposal, shooting at the murderous mob would have been their “easiest” way out. But that would have been a massacre. And any possible death would have fed the cycle of violence which vested interests want to perpetuate in the valley. So the Army major should be congratulated for thinking on his feet and preventing a huge crisis. Surely, showing maximum restraint in the face of extreme provocation cannot be deemed as a violation of human rights. Instead, it should be taken for what it is—a show of respect for human lives. The irony is, the other side would not have shown any such restraint if they had managed to lay their hands on their opponents.

Lodging FIRs is hardly the appropriate way to boost the morale of soldiers who are fighting to keep the country safe, often with one hand tied behind their back. For that matter, the Mehbooba Mufti government needs to answer for the deteriorating law and order situation in the Valley under her watch. Is there any truth in the charge that her police is too soft with the mobs who rule the Valley’s streets? The violence unleashed on Monday in Lal Chowk and surrounding areas is proof that the situation is spiralling out of control. Worse, slogans such as “Hindu tere khun say inquilab aayega (we will get freedom over the blood of Hindus)” have returned to Kashmir’s streets. At a time when the Mufti government is talking about resettling Pandits in the valley, such slogans bring back memories of the dark days of 1991, when a whole population was attacked and made to flee just because they belonged to a different faith. It was ethnic cleansing by another name. Kashmir cannot afford to lose another decade to violence and mayhem, especially when the ordinary Kashmiri thirsts for peace and a normal life like any other Indian. One look at the long queues forming at Army recruitment camps in the valley reinforces this belief.

A bunch of violent elements controlled by the jihadi separatists who work for Pakistan, must not be allowed to control the streets and the narrative in the valley. They should not be under any illusion that they will get azaadi by instigating unrest. Kashmir Is India’s and will remain so.

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