By Sunita Vakil
30 Mar , 2013
The new phase of violence that has swept Kashmir once again highlights the fact that the overall situation remains on knife’s edge. Militants disguised as cricketers killed five paramilitary troopers after sneaking into a CRPF camp adjoining a school in Bemina area of Srinagar. As many as 18 people including 15 CRPF jawans and three civilians were also injured in the attack. The horrendous attack on the CRPF camp, which is the first major attack after a virtual lull of three years, proves yet again that terrorists continue to pose serious threat to the lives and liberty of people in the Valley. Painting a rosy picture with officially provided figures will not do. And it is a grim reminder that the threat of terrorism hasn’t gone away which requires that we remain on guard.
As long as Pakistan continues to support terror activities in India, there is no way the government can withdraw AFSPA from Kashmir.
Indeed, in recent days the Valley has been in a state of turmoil first over the hanging of Parliament accused Afzal Guru and then the killing of a young man during a demonstration in Baramulla. In fact, the attack was carried out on a day Kashmiri separatist groups in the Valley had called for a shutdown demanding the return of the body of Afzal Guru, who was hanged and subsequently buried in Delhi’s Tihar Jail for his role in the 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament. It needs to be mentioned that separatism has a very long history in Kashmir and lies simmering under the surface. Despite the yearning for some governance, manifested in the people’s participation in elections, underlying tensions need but a spark to make a conflagration be it over the Pathribal case or an incident like the current one. So Afzal Guru’s execution is nothing more than another opportunity for militant groups to keep Kashmir on the boil.
The recent unfortunate incident has been part of the pattern in the Valley involving anti-national forces. They have always tried to exploit every development to promote their nefarious designs and Afzal Guru’s hanging has given them a handle to hit the headlines. It is in this context that hardline separatist elements have been calling for bandhs to make their presence felt. In fact the hartal in the Valley on Wednesday was on account of Union Home Minister Shushilkumar Shinde’s rejection of demands for exhuming Afzal’s body to hand over to his family.
While the recent incidents leave no one in doubt about the volatile situation in the Valley, the suicide attack brings into sharp focus the debate on AFSPA. Though the security agencies and armed forces strongly oppose the repel of the Act from the Valley, the politicians including J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, oddly enough, want to replace it with an Act that empowers the state police with draconian powers. So the back and forth on AFSPA continues even as violence aided and abetted by elements across the border threatens to make a comeback.