Rein in rogues

For a long time Kashmir had not seen the imposition of curfew in all major towns and restrictions on people’s movements in the entire valley. But the days of widespread popular protests and restrictive responses have come back, with the recurrence of quite a few incidents of confict between the people and security forces. The entire valley has been under curfew for three days since last Thursday after people protested against the killing of four people and injuries to  scores of others in firing by the Border Security  Force personnel in  Gool in Ramban district . The people had assembled to protest against the alleged assault on an imam by the BSF men. The incident  occurred within weeks of the killing of two young men by the army in Bandipora. The Bandipora incident had also led to a wave of protests.

 Incidents involving clashes between the people and security forces do more harm to the cause of peace and normalcy in the state than militant activities. This is because they alienate society and harden the popular mood. Though there have been cases of  agents provocateurs creating situations of conflict or emotional mobs casting the first stone, there have been many cases of the security forces resorting to unprovoked violence,  losing self-control and using excessive force.  This cannot be justified  on the ground  that the forces have to face a lot of psychological stress and many uncertainties in the strife-torn state.  Worse still,  the security establishment and the governments, both in the state and at the Centre, have been casual in dealing with the offences committed by the forces.

There have been many incidents of killing of civilians  by security forces in different parts of Kashmir.  They were also followed by official attempts of cover-up. Inquiries were ordered but the reports were either not made public  or were not credible. The cases were not pursued and the culprits not punished. If it was meant to protect the morale of the security forces, it was a wrong policy and could only hurt ultimately. The negative impact of the people’s loss of faith  in rule of law and justice would be much costlier. The state government has called the Gool  incident  “unfortunate’’. It is again a guarded and inadequate response, as in many earlier cases.  Every incident of excess and atrocity and the refusal to deal with it lawfully  further deepens the mood of alienation in the state.

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