The fatal attack on a ruling Peopleís Democratic Party (PDP) leader in south Kashmirís Pulwama district is a grim reminder of the situation that prevailed in Kashmir Valley during the onset of anti-India insurgency.
During this month, several such attacks have taken place in the south Kashmir region and several pro-India political workers and relatives of men serving in the police department have been targeted. The occurrence of such incidents goes simultaneously with the spiraling public protests, especially staged by the school and college students. The situation is not unprecedented but it has emerged after a relatively longer time with some exclusive elements. Understandably, the solutions to the emerging situation are not easy to prescribe.
The immediate instigation for the militants, it seems, was the conduct of parliamentary by-poll in Srinagar-Budgam constituency on April 9 that resulted into killing of nine anti-poll protesters at the hands of government forces. Following the chain of events, it was a sensible decision on part of election commission of India to postpone the by-poll for Anantnag constituency scheduled for April 12.
However, the decision to postpone the election proved to be half-baked and full of flaws. While the immediate crisis was averted, the ECI simultaneously fixed another date (May 25) for the conduct of by-poll.
Over the last weekend, an ECI reviewed the poll preparations giving indications that it was seriously pursuing the plan to hold the by-poll on the due date. Ironically, the ruling party has been pleading for indefinite postponing of the election but the ECI looks the other way. This is akin to adding fuel to the fire.
The killing of a political worker purely on the basis of his or her political beliefs and affiliation is not justifiable. Senior Hurriyat Conference leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also denounced the political killings when another PDP worker was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Qasbayar village of Shopian district earlier this month. Who perpetrate these killings is not specifically known and neither of the parties involved in the conflict that is called Kashmir issue openly claim for such incidents. They always remain shrouded in mystery and open for imagination, doubt, blame and counter-blame.
The fact of the matter is that the people of Kashmir are perpetually suffering as a result of such atmosphere where human life becomes the primary target. There have been prolonged periods in the Kashmir situation when human life regained its value in the post-1990 period. Unfortunately, such situations were not prolonged and capitalized. This led to chaos and confusion on the ground and things went back to square one.
Announcement of elections was a major blunder that the ECI committed. It offers a handle to saboteurs and that is what we are witnessing on the ground. The killing of Abdul Gani Mir, a few hours after chief minister Mehbooba Mufti met with Prime Minister Narednra Modi in New Delhi should not be taken as a trivial incident. The situation requires a holistic review where safety of human life, irrespective of who is affiliated with whom, must be given the topmost priority. It is impossible to provide security to every political worker. Therefore, the only solution is to change the atmospherics so that the soft targets can feel safe. For this purpose, the primary objective should be to shelve the conduct of elections.