Editorial: Can this be a new beginning?

Srinagar: The state police chief has revealed that the separatist trio, Geelani, Mirwaiz and Yasin Malik are free birds for now and that they will not be stopped from carrying out their social as well as political activities.

The move has come after almost two years after the government decided to curtail their movement following the uprising in south Kashmir and other parts of the Valley.

For close to two years, the separatist leadership has been forbidden to come out of their homes, and on occasions been put behind bars, but the police now say they are free to go anywhere they like.

However, the police chief said that their freedom will come for a price, one they can’t make an anti-national speech and two, the leaders do not have to create a law and order problem.

Importantly, the political decision to lift curbs on the movement of the three leaders comes at a time of serious political crisis facing the Kashmir valley when the state has struggled to pacify the recent surge of anti-government feelings.

The move to allow them to go around would be seen as the eventual government acknowledgement of the need to let Hurriyat leaders interact with people and pursue their political goal peacefully.

The decision to let the Hurriyat leaders mingle with the masses also smacks of the fact that the government (read both state and the federal) has been left bewildered by the trend that has been off late catching up with the youth-extreme views and resorting to violence.

Many would wonder whether giving freedom to the three senior separatist leaders to move around is designed to let the leaders convince the young that there was a better and peaceful way of resisting the government than resorting to violent means.

As of now the state’s Chief Minister has also hinted that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir could have been dealt with other means also, but unfortunately only gun and coercive measures were resorted to. If this thinking is gaining ground in the power corridors both in Srinagar and New Delhi then the realization that policies of coercion and choking the space had led to deterioration in the situation, can somehow be controlled even now.

All this needs a political will and admission of the fact that the past policies perused by the government in New Delhi and Srinagar have failed. A new approach is the need of the hour if the situation is to be brought back to normal once again. Even the interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma and Rajiv Gauba, the Union Home Secretary have in recent days expressed their concern about the trend of local boys joining the ranks militants in the Valley.

If the government is serious enough to bring a change on the ground then the move to allow the Hurriyat leadership move freely should be followed up by the release of all political prisoners and youth who have been held captive since the past two  years. 


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