Kashmir is sitting on powder-keg which has the potential of blasting everything into smithereens. Dragging families of militants and policemen into armed conflict is the most dangerous thing happening around. On Thursday, militants kidnapped nine persons, all relatives of policemen, from different parts in south Kashmir. This was, perhaps, in response to the arrest of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naik’s father and 14 others besides torching the houses of two Hizb militants at Nazneenpora and Amshipora. Allegations of harassing families of militants had been there for quite some time. Last week, Lashkar Toiba came out with a statement calling upon government forces to fight them, not their families. However, over the past few days the situation has taken a very ugly turn with the danger of pushing Kashmir into civil war. It is a matter of serious concern not to be overlooked. Kashmir has lost around one lakh people (according to unofficial reports) in the past 30 years besides bearing a huge cost in economic and material terms as well. A small place with small population having such a huge human investment cannot afford to lose more people and property in a war among its own citizens.
It is quite unethical and unscrupulous on the part of government forces to harass and humiliate families and relatives of militants. No militant has taken to arms with the consent of his parents or relatives. This is known to everyone in and outside the government. Still they (families of militants) are harassed and humiliated. The arrest of Riyaz Naik’s father and relatives of other militants is the most unwanted and unacceptable thing in a civilized society. By going after the relatives of militants, government is only but promoting trouble in the streets.
Militants should also draw lessons from the struggle of the past 30 years. It is a fact that majority of the present militants are young and are not aware of the stages armed movement passed through in early 90s. But some key leaders in the armed movement still belong to the era of early 90s. Hizbul Mujahideen’s entire top leadership of early 90s is still intact and they have the right understanding of the situation. They know it more than anyone else that how damaging it is to going against common people. Relatives of policemen are as common people as the relatives of militants. How would it help to target them?
The militants have a great role model in Burhan Wani before them. No militant leader in Kashmir has gained as much popularity and love as Burhan. His death, though took place two years back, is still mourned by the people, more particularly by the younger generation. The entire Kashmir got on boil for around six months over the death of Burhan. More than 100 persons were killed and thousands other wounded and jailed in protests that erupted in the wake of Burhan’s killing. It was indeed death of a hero and heartthrob. Burhan was just 21 year old boy but the people of 70 and 80 years of age felt orphaned in his death. That is the amount of popularity Burhan enjoyed. The main reason of his popularity was his relation with common people. He was not just a Hizbul Mujahideen commander but indeed a peoples’ commander, who lived among people and for the people. That is why everybody in Kashmir felt for his death. Burhan, in fact, infused a new life in what is generally called ‘freedom’ movement. It is imperative for the successive militant leadership to follow the foot prints of Burhan Wani if they really want the same amount of love and popularity from the people of Kashmir.
The political leadership of separatist shades has also a responsibility to save Kashmir from the catastrophic way it has begun to tread on. Syed Ali Geelani, the most respectable voice among militants, should come forward with a word of caution and advice. In a situation of crisis it is the political leadership that shows the way.