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Kashmir unrest: Govt to adopt firmness and compassion

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Government will use both firmness and compassion in dealing with the unrest in Kashmir even as it appears not averse to talks with separatists but not before violence comes to an end.

As Eid-ul Azha, slated for September 13, is approaching, the government expects the situation to improve as it has a feeling that people would like to celebrate the occasion, despite the strike call extended by separatists till September 16.

As the violence has still not abated, top government sources say that the state will assert itself against trouble makers while civilians will be treated with "compassion".

In this regard, the government is willing to provide the best medical care even to those injured in clashes with security forces. It also refuses to buy the theory of victim hood by trouble makers who first instigate violence and then claim sufferings because of retaliatory action by the security forces.

The dual strategy appears to be the government's approach amid demands for initiating a dialogue process with all stakeholders in the state.

On the external front, the government appears to be in no mood for a dialogue with Pakistan which, it is convinced, is "100 per cent" behind the current unrest in Kashmir and has taken a "complete U-turn" by injecting bitterness in the relations.

There is also no clarity on whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Pakistan to attend the SAARC Summit in November, with the sources saying there is still time to decide on it.

There is an assessment in the government that Pakistan

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had been cordial and warm in relations with Modi since his swearing-in two years back, has been weakened after Panama papers expose and increasing pressure from the all-powerful military.

This, they said, has compelled him to spew venom against India, which has come as a complete surprise.

As far as raking up of Balochistan is concerned, the sources said it was a deliberate policy of India to hit back at Pakistan over human rights issues.

India, they made it clear, has no intention of spreading terrorism there and its policy is limited to highlighting the human rights problems in the region where Pakistan is using tanks and air raids against its own people.

Seeking to give a perspective to the current situation in Kashmir, the sources in the government said there has to be a distinction between trouble makers and common civilians.

But the problem is that in a complete change from the earlier phases of trouble like in 2008 and 2010, there has been a transition from sufism to wahabi Islam, giving rise to fundamental elements.

The sources said the argument that stone pelters, who instigate violence, are not wrong but those trying to control the situation are in the wrong, a reference to security forces.

About separatists, who had a political constituency, the sources said there is a question mark now on their own space and politics. The government, however, is not averse to talking to the separatists, including Hurriyat Conference, once the cycle of violence ends and they show inclination towards dialogue, unlike the rebuff given to some MPs who recently tried to reach out to them by visiting them.

With regard to demands from even mainstream national political parties for dilution of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the sources said there cannot be any compromise on this aspect as terrorists do not respect geography when it comes to their actions.

The state has to assert and cannot be seen as weak when it comes to the question of security, sovereignty and integrity, they said.

In this context, the sources noted that Burhan Wani, whose killing on July 8 triggered the current unrest, was a declared Hizbul Mujahideen commander carrying a reward announced by the previous UPA government.

The government cannot countenance the argument that he should not be killed because he was a big militant.

The sources noted that it has made repeated attempts for outreach, with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh travelling thrice and the all-party delegation once to Kashmir.

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First Published: Thu, September 08 2016. 18:22 IST