Unholy mess

An unseemly war of words has broken out between the Delhi police and the Jammu and Kashmir government over the arrest of Liaquat Shah, a former Kashmiri militant.

The Delhi police claim they have evidence that Liaquat had entered India from Nepal intending to carry out a terrorist attack in Delhi on Holi. The J&K government says he had come to India to avail of a surrender and rehabilitation policy. Finding out the true identity of Liaquat and his intentions, should not be difficult to establish. That can be done if officials of the central and J&K state government would sit down at the table and exchange all information they have on Liaquat.

For J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is under fire in his state over a number of issues including the hanging of Afzal Guru, the Liaquat issue has come as another embarrassment. Protests and militant violence in the Kashmir Valley are growing. He is feeling cornered by his political adversaries, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).  The muscular position he has taken vis-à-vis the Centre must be seen in this context. His absurd argument that Liaquat cannot be a terrorist as fidayeen don’t infiltrate India along with their families shows how out of touch he is. For Abdullah, the Liaquat issue is an opportunity to impress his electorate through flexing his muscles at Delhi. As for the Delhi police, they have bungled countless times. More often than not, the people they parade as ‘dreaded terrorists’ have turned out to be apple merchants or carpet sellers. It is not surprising therefore that many expect Liaquat’s arrest to be yet another monumental mistake. It is unfortunate that a matter of national security has been turned into an a farce, an opportunity for point scoring and politicking.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has ordered a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the arrest. If Liaquat turns out to be a militant whose intention in entering India was to lay down the gun, then this incident will have huge impact on the J&K government’s surrender and rehabilitation policy. It is possible that vested interests opposed to the J&K government’s attempt at reintegrating militants are behind this unholy mess. Improved sharing of intelligence and better co-ordination of agencies would prevent similar face-offs in future.

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