Kashmir calms down, but peace still distant

November 29, 2010

Soldiers patrol the scene of a shootout in Srinagar November 29, 2010. REUTERS/Danish IsmailWinter has come to Kashmir, a scenic valley deep in the Himalayas, cooling tensions in the disputed region after months of violent anti-India demonstrations.

At least 110 people have been killed since June. Dozens were wounded, mostly by police bullets, during the protests – the biggest since a revolt against Indian rule broke out in 1989.

A separatist strike, curfew and security lock-down, that dragged on for over four months and closed much of the region, have ebbed away and the streets across Kashmir are abuzz with activity again.

Authorities say the arrest of some “hard-core” protest organisers and the onset of winter helped to calm the protests.

But there is no optimism across Kashmir valley that peace has returned.

Nayeem Akhtar, chief spokesman of the state’s main opposition People’s Democratic Party says the weakening of anti-India protests should not be mistaken for an end to the problem.

“You cannot expect Kashmiris to be in permanent agitation mode. People are exhausted, they have suffered deaths, injuries, financial losses,” Akhtar told The Hindu newspaper.

Locals fear that if New Delhi fails to address the Kashmir anger, deaths and rights violations, the disputed region could slide into a renewed phase of militancy.

“…otherwise, as a Kashmiri, I am worried that stone-pelting should not lead to something worse,” Akhtar warns.

Authorities in Srinagar removed some security bunkers and appointed a new team to talk to the violence-weary people and their leaders, as part of New Delhi’s efforts to defuse tensions in Kashmir.

But there is already a sudden rise in militancy and security agencies say a large number of “stone pelting” protesters are  joining the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.

If New Delhi does not act quickly to address Kashmir political grievance, will the region flare up again?

Does Kashmir risk a return to militancy?

The warning signs of violence are visible there. Nearly a dozen militants were killed in separate gun battles in the past one week across the region.

4 comments

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The Government must not appease People whose demands are voiced via violent media. Those who break the Law can not expect to receive its benefits. Kashmiris have been given more access to go to other States with which the Government shall help them. The Problem is, and this with the Muslim Community at large in India, they are behind. Where Education comes, extremism falls. We have seen this in Europe. When Enlightenment came, the Church’s Power weakened and has been so doing thenceforth. The Government ought to improve the Quality of Education and make sure the Muslims Population have the best access to Education as well. We must deinsentivise People from taking refuge with the Terrorists.

Posted by ShahofShahs | Report as abusive

This is unfortunate that government of India did not respond to peaceful protests in Kashmir thus giving a sense of defeat to Kashmiris who have beeen treated like slaves by India. This sense of defeat and New Delhi’s atitutde has pushed youth of Kashmir to the wall and tgey may turn to another phase of armed struggle.

Posted by drshugufta | Report as abusive

@shahofshah
u r c orrect, where education coms extremism falls, education has come to kashmior and Indian extremism is falling and indian occupation will soon end. When India and Pakistan were slaves of British, Kashmir ws free an independent state appeasing bith.

Posted by drshugufta | Report as abusive

Arundhti Roy has talked about it, Pandit Nehru said the same, freedom for Kashmiris can be delayed, but it can not be stopped for ever.

Posted by Asianboy | Report as abusive