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Rajnath Singh’s Kashmir visit

Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh is currently in the valley. This is his first visit to the state after the appointment of Sat Pal Malik as governor of the state. He is holding a high level meeting of senior security officials to review the security situation in Kashmir. It would not be difficult for the home minister to understand the security situation as his visit comes just two days after a bloodbath in Kulgam in which seven civilians have died and around 50 others injured in a blast that occurred at an encounter site. The explosive material that took away the innocent lives was left behind by security forces during a clash with militants. Three militants were killed in the gunfight. All the three militants were local residents. That too added to the gloom that has overtaken the valley. It is not going overboard to say that the deaths have left the entire valley in mourning. On Monday, the valley and many parts of Jammu region shut under mourning cum protest strike on Kulgam deaths. Kulgam is not some isolated incident in Kashmir. Deaths, in one way or the other, have become a usual affair in Kashmir. Rarely a day passes when deaths are not reported from one or the other corner of the state, more particularly Kashmir. One must presume that the home minister’s visit and security review meeting has been necessitated by the reports of daily killings he might be receiving. Rajnath Singh is, after the prime minister, the second most important figure in the government. He does not enjoy the image of a hardliner unlike his other colleagues in and outside the government. He is deemed as a “Vajpayee” in the present government. One hopes that Rajnath Singh takes a realistic look at the security situation, and issues directions to the state and central agencies to adopt a human face while dealing with common civilians. What happened in Kulgam is the most damn thing, and no excuse or ruse would justify it. But it is sad to note that the police, instead of owning the blame and feeling embarrassed, accused the victims of being responsible for their killing by saying “killings happened due to non-cooperation by the people”.  Rajnath Singh must have taken note of this irresponsible behavior of the security people, and one believes that he must have directed the people on operational duties of the dangers and risks involved in such an obnoxious conduct. The even more important thing one expects from the home minister, for his integrity as a follower of Vajpayee doctrine, is that he must have realized that Kashmir is not a problem of law and order that police or security forces could deal with on occasional bases. Kashmir is a political problem and it needs a political approach. The realization should come in the political and military establishment that since the advent of the BJP in power at the centre in 2014, a hard-line military approach is being adopted in bringing normalcy in Kashmir. Hundreds of people including militants have been killed in the urge to establish what the people in power would like to call as peace but the situation, with each passing day, the situation turns from bad to worse. When the present dispensation occupied power in Delhi, the number of militants operating in Kashmir was mere around two dozen. More than 500 militants have been killed by security forces since then but militancy has not been curbed. Around 300 militants are still active. That speaks of the volumes of the crisis in Kashmir. For the death of one militant, two or three more become new militants. It is quite imperative for the people in power to understand this inherent snag in the issue, and try other methods like dialogue to restore peace in the state.