India’s Prime Minister praised the work of security forces in disputed Kashmir on Tuesday, in a show of support for troops that killed over 100 separatist protesters last year that risks angering those that resent India’s large military presence in the state.
The remarks represent a seal of approval for security forces that are cited by many Kashmiris as an element of the violence, rather than the preventers of it, and come as a team of interlocutors enters its fifth month of talks in the troubled region, and almost two months after Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said that a political solution to the troubles was likely to emerge “in the next few months.”
But can Manmohan Singh’s praise for the “tremendous restraint” of Indian forces in Kashmir be applauded considering they have been responsible for the death of over 100 separatist protesters in months of violent clashes since last summer?
“It is really unfortunate and sad that despite tremendous restraint shown by the security forces, many young people died,” Singh told a conference of state chief ministers in New Delhi on Tuesday. “As we meet today, the situation in the valley has improved.”
Such rhetoric — regularly trotted out by New Delhi and military leaders — is reviled by many in Kashmir by those who resent the perceived heavy-handed treatment by India’s security forces.