Kashmir: As conflict approaches major milestone, cycle of violence leaves little prospect of resolution

Kashmir: As conflict approaches major milestone, cycle of violence leaves little prospect of resolution

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The killing of seven Hindu pilgrims, whose bus was ambushed by separatist militants on Monday evening, has prompted outrage and condemnation across India.
The pilgrims’ bus was late returning from the Amarnath shrine, a popular mountaintop destination. Seven people died, and 19, including security personnel, were injured when gunmen attacked it.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the attack “dastardly” and said it deserved the strongest possible condemnation.
Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone.
It is the latest atrocity in a long and bitter three-way fight between India, Pakistan and separatists that has shattered thousands of lives.

Last year, more than 100 people were blinded by shotgun pellets used to quell unrest.

A bizarre incident in April illustrates how broken relations are between Kashmiris and the security forces meant to police and protect them

Farooq Dar, 26, had just voted in a by-election and was riding his motorbike to see relatives, when he says, soldiers ordered him to stop.

They beat him, then lashed him to a jeep and paraded him for several hours as a warning to would-be stone throwers.

Mr Dar became known as Kashmir’s “human shield” after video of his ordeal was shared widely.

This week, Jammu and Kashmir’s Human Rights Commission found he had been subjected to physical and psychological torture, and wrongful confinement.

It ordered the Government pay him $20,000 compensation.

“What happened to me should not be repeated with anyone,” Mr Dar told the ABC.
“The forces have to have local support, its very important,” said Inspector-General Ravideep Sahi, the Kashmir commander of India’s paramilitary, the Central Reserve Police Force.

His men were not responsible for Mr Dar’s treatment.
He won’t condemn the incident, but acknowledges, it doesn’t help win hearts and minds.

The battle for Muslim-majority Kashmir turns 70 in August.

Now, alongside the competing claims of India, Pakistan and independence-seeking separatists, there are questions over the influence of extremists.

“IS” markings, graffitied on Kashmir’s walls, reflect what India’s security agencies say is a deepening divide between traditional separatists political independence, and younger militants fighting an Islamist cause.

Firebrand Zakir Musa is one who has declared his desire for a caliphate.

“Our struggle in Kashmir, especially of the Mujahedeen of Islam, is only for Islam, we will definitely impose sharia here,” he declared in a recent recording.

Mr Musa succeeded popular young militant Burhan Wani as leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen group after Wani was shot by security forces a year ago.

Security forces say it is indicative of Islamic State (IS) influence, but acknowledge there is not yet evidence of direct IS involvement.

Some accuse India of beating up the “Islamisation” threat to justify a crackdown.

Mr Dar’s home in central Kashmir is considered one of the restive region’s more peaceful parts.

“[But] everybody here hates the army now,” he said.
As India prepares to respond to this latest loss of life, few dare look to politicians in search of fresh thinking.
The expectation is India’s response will be by way of its army, reinforcing an often-violent status quo.

But perhaps there’s some reason to be optimistic. Amid a charged atmosphere on Tuesday, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh rebuked a tweet urging him “not to placate” — “just drag those cowards out and cull”.

Mr Singh replied: “It is absolutely my job to ensure peace and tranquillity in all parts of the country.”

“All Kashmiris are not terrorists,” he added.
In Kashmir, a region sadly familiar with violence and reprisal, residents used to bracing will be hoping.

 

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