Shameful killing of a soldier

Amit Kushari IAS (Retd)
Militancy in Kashmir valley is taking a very dangerous turn now. The situation in Kashmir was always bad since 1990. However, the Government of India somehow managed to retain Kashmir valley in the political map of India with a lot of struggle and difficulty. In the last two years the situation seems to be going out of control. When the state elections were held in February 2015, the situation was somehow under control and we witnessed a 50% polling in J&K, which was quite a good achievement, considering its dismal historical record. With the formation of PDP, BJP Government, the downhill journey started and today we are on the brink of a disaster.
The situation is so dangerous and regrettable that an army officer was dragged out of his home in Kulgam, Kashmir and was killed in cold blood. I cannot recollect such a gruesome, unfortunate incident happening earlier. Lt. Umer Fayyaz was a young 23 year old Kashmiri boy who had joined the Indian army only six months ago. He had gone home (Kulgam) to attend his Mamu’s daughter’s marriage. Since he had gone on leave, he was unarmed and without security. The Kashmiri Muslim militants/freedom fighters did not spare even  another Kashmiri Muslim in their excitement and josh for ‘Azaadi’. This is inhuman and unthinkable. Getting a permanent Government job is so difficult nowadays. Lt Umer Fayyaz was a meritorious boy and he could clear the NDA examination on merit. He joined the army for a secure career in Government—certainly not because he was opposed to Kashmir’s ‘azaadi’ from India. The Kashmiri militants awarded him capital punishment without considering the entire circumstances and back ground of the case.
We had also fought the British for gaining independence….but that didn’t stop our forefathers from working for the police department or the civilian Government under the British Raj. That didn’t make our forefathers less patriotic or nationalist. Our freedom fighters attacked British officers and the British police but never attacked the Indian officers or the Indian policemen because everyone knew that they were working for the government and the police only for sustaining their families. No body ever thought that they loved India any less than the others. I am absolutely sure that Lt. Umer Fayyaz and his family members love Kashmir as much as the Kashmiri freedom fighters do. Did they deserve this inhuman punishment? Everybody cannot have the same standards as Netaji Subhash Bose or Rishi Aurobindo. Both of them had cleared the prestigious Indian Civil Service examination but resigned because they didn’t want to serve under the British. Rabindranath Tagore was conferred knighthood by Queen Victoria of England but after the brutal massacre of Indians by the British army at Jalianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Gurudev Tagore returned his knighthood to the Queen of England. The standard set by the giants like Netaji, Gurudev and Rishi Aurobindo cannot be expected from a 22 year old boy of rural Kashmir. If the Kashmiri freedom fighters and their advisors in Pakistan were expecting that this young boy should resign from the Indian army, because of so called oppression by the Indian army in Kashmir, wasn’t it too much to expect? If they had expected some self sacrifice from the Kashmiri Ministers and highly placed Kashmiri bureaucrats/police officers, I could still understand their logic, but killing an unarmed junior officer , who was on leave, simply cannot be condoned. The Kashmir police must immediately catch hold of the murderers and ensure that they get death penalty.
The Government of India cannot allow the situation to drift any further. They must immediately try to solve the Kashmir problem by first talking to the Kashmiris and later on with the Pakistanis also. If we can buy peace with the Kashmiris, Pakistanis cannot foment much trouble. A question frequently asked is …… “Who will talk and with whom?” I would like to give a very straight forward answer. The MOS in the PMO along with the Deputy Chief Minister of J&K should initiate the dialogue immediately with two representatives of  Hurriyat Conference as well as two representatives from NC, PDP and Congress each. The Hurriyat Conference will not agree to meet anyone unless a concrete road map is given to them. For them the road map will be something like a road towards full autonomy or ‘azaadi’. If Hurriyat gets the feeling that the dialogue will be genuine and meaningful they will participate in the meeting headed by MOS PMO. Naturally the representatives of Jammu and Ladakh will never agree to autonomy for the state as a whole. So the dialogue for ‘azaadi’/autonomy can start only with the separation of Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir. Initially the Kashmiris will resist it. Naturally, because who wants powers and jurisdiction to be curtailed? But eventually the Kashmiris will give in because Kashmiris will realise that only if they can get rid of Jammu and Ladakh, can they ever expect to get a Prime Minister and parliament of their own. They will themselves make a resolution in the state assembly to be subsequently forwarded to the Government of India.. If such a development ever becomes a reality, Kashmir valley may get a lot of autonomy. Except for Defence and External Affairs they can have all the other powers. Kashmir will have its own Parliament and Prime Minister, its own Election Commission. The Income Tax department will have no authority in Kashmir. Only the Kashmiri IAS /IPS officers will be retained, all others will go back, all Indian banks will go back. This should be an attractive proposition for the Kashmiris and they should start the dialogue immediately. If such a reconciliation does not happen then it will have disastrous consequences and a war  may become inevitable. All of us will stand to lose. Only the people of Baluchistan may be the gainers.
(The author is former Financial Commissioner, J&K )
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