Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

Shopian Tragedy * A sordid complexion of Kashmir conflict

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 16, 2009

M.D. Gilkar

The gory incident of human rights violation at Shopian in South Kashmir a few days back has once again sent shock waves in the Valley populace. The incident in which a teenaged girl and her married sister-in-law are reported to have been murdered after having been dishonoured. According to FSL report carried by local papers the heinous crime stands confirmed.
The newly formed government after the elections headed by Omar Abdullah had to face a similar situation soon after he assumed the office of the Chief Minister in the trouble-torn state. It pertained to killing of innocent civilians at Bomai in Sopore where the people of the area were made to feel satisfied with the shifting of the camp of the security forces. What punishment has been awarded to those responsible for the crime is not known. It is common knowledge that human rights violations have been going on with impunity for the last about two decades.
The main cause for this has been unbridled powers enjoyed by the security forces. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) authorises the men in Khaki to unleash terror and resort to all sorts of excesses. Instances are not lacking where the forces have indulged in committing gang-rapes with impunity especially in far-flung rural areas. The incident at Konan Poshpora in Handwara district stands condemned by the Amnesty International, Pugwash and NGOs of a number of countries.
After uprising of 2008 it was hoped that the peoples’ massive participation in the elections would usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the state which didn’t happen. The strenuous efforts made by the mainstream leaders to persuade the people to participate in the elections ignoring the boycott call of the separatists also didn’t yield any dividends. These elections didn’t inject anything new in the situation. The political scenario remained the same. Likewise, the catch and kill policy on the part of the forces continues to haunt the innocent civilians. On the development front the government headed by Omar Abdullah has not been able to achieve anything substantial. Promises made with the people in regard to better roads and improvement in the health care of the community and drinking water facilities in the Kandi belt and inaccessible areas didn’t materialise.
At the moment human rights violation of a horrendous nature committed by the security forces has badly damaged the tourism activity. Tourists who had arrived here have either left back or are in the processing of packing up. Those who had booked space in houseboats and hotels in Srinagar and other tourist resorts of the Valley cancelled their bookings. Restrictions on the movement of people are not going to suit the holiday makers. At the moment after spending a day or two they go back disappointed. This way the tourism which is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy is suffering a lot. Because of shattered peaceful environ and unstable political conditions the development activity is at the lowest ebb. Administrative waywardness is prevalent in important government institutions.
The senior officials failed to explain to the media the rationale and genesis of different measures adopted to deal with the situation that crept in at Shopian in regard to the rape and murder to the teen-aged girl and a young married woman. The people didn’t accept the official version describing the rape and murder of the women as a ‘drowning incident’ as the dead bodies were recovered from a nearby stream. The widespread demonstrations and strikes have set in another innings of uncertainty. The estranged population of the Valley feel very much concerned about this heinous crime. The senior leaders and members of the mainstream parties also are in a dilemma. They have not been able to fulfill the promises made by them with the people concerning their day to day problems. The colossal problem of unemployment exists there. The educated youth are suffering from despair, despondency and deprivation.
Political leaders of different hues who had assured them employment are not in a position to face them. In the present political turmoil their conspicuous absence is being felt. Excepting PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti no other mainstream political leader is there to render a helping hand to ease out the situation. However, secessionist camp is drawing political mileage by way of organising protest demonstrations and addressing the public rallies. The fact remains that the political instability has told upon the lives of the people heavily which is also the root cause of alienation of the people against the men at the helm of affairs at New Delhi. The issues which cause the alienation need to be addressed with courage and fortitude. For restoring normalcy in the state and also between the countries of India and Pakistan vagueness and evasion of issues needs to be shunned.

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