What caused unrest in Kashmir?

India Oct 15, 2021

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On October 7th, two teachers — Deepak Chand and Supunder Kaur, were shot down in Kashmir. Before that, a well-known pharmacist, Makhan Lal Bindroo, was shot on October 6th. The same day, the head of local union passenger’s cab driver, Mohammad Shafi Lone was shot by unknown gunmen.  A total of 7 civilians, 3 of them from Hindu and Sikh communities and 5 Muslims, were shot in Kashmir between October 1st to 7th. The Resistant Front (TRF), a terror group in Kashmir, has claimed responsibility for all of them. This entire year,  Kashmir has seen a total of 23 shooting incidents, of which 3 were non-locals from other Indian states and 18 were Muslims. It is being speculated that these militant killings are in response to the new domicile act and the new electoral process. Apart from the terrorist attacks, a local civilian was killed by CRPF firing in Anantnag. Clashes between civilians and Security Forces are quite common in the valley and often speculated as to the reason for rising insurgency in the region.

On October 9th, about 300 people were detained for questioning by the security forces. Those detained included members of the banned religious organisation Jamaat-e-Islami, an umbrella alliance of secessionists known as the Hurriyat Conference, and others with previous links to militant groups. Among the ones detained are 40 school teachers from Srinagar, the main city of Kashmir.  The Resistance Front said it was not targeting people based on their religion, but only those working for Indian authorities,  according to a well-known international news organization. It has also threatened to continue such terror attacks if any anti-Kashmir acts were found by them.

While Union Home Minister, Amit Shah has ordered to tighten security in the region,  Kashmiri Pandits continue to feel scared and are relocating to new places in large numbers. Among the people relocating, are government employees who had been employed under the Prime Minister’s special scheme. The local police are doing everything they can, and some minorities have even been shifted to security camps, even though terrorists have targeted both Muslims and Hindus alike.  The Sheikhpura neighbourhood, home to the minority Kashmiri Pandit Community, is being guarded by the CRPF forces. Despite this, many people have decided to not go to work. Other Pandit neighbourhoods are facing the same situation.

People’s Conference Chairman, Sajjad Gani Lone, has said that the attack’s mere purpose is to alienate the majority and create an image that depicts them as the lunatic fringe of the State. It is important to make a distinction between the majority community and the fringiest of fringe, who bring a bad name to the entire community. “They have not spared the majority community either and have killed at whim and continue to target all those who are not in conformity with their world view,” Lone said. One must keep in mind that, the grief of losing their loved one's lies in both the communities alike.

Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Vijay Kumar has commented on the CRPF firing at Monghal Bridge that took place soon after the terror attack “A suspected vehicle without number was tried to intercept by our officials. However, it rushed towards them. It was then challenged by the on-duty troops. Troops fired upon in self-defence and one person died.” The Mayor of Srinagar has condemned the firing and demanded an investigation of the incident. The incident is a consequence of the terror attack. Such firings along with the lack of education and employment fuel the youth into choosing guns over penmanship.

The Union Territory needs to remain steadfast and united in this hour of grief, while the authorities continue to do everything they can to protect the people. The State needs to understand that Kashmir is a one of a kind state, very much vulnerable to a violent response like this one and the best way of bringing about economic and social development is acknowledgement and mutual respect for one another’s cultural interests and individual emphasis on education and freedom.

This article has been written by changemaker Shagufa Bava for The Paradigm.

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