Asking the right questions on Kashmir

Asking the right questions on Kashmir

My landlord in Patiala, Chief Manager with the State Bank of Patiala, a jovial Sikh once narrated the story of another Sardar who got so fed up with the cops stopping his scooter in Patiala all the time to check for weapons or explosives that he got the lid of his side dicky taken off completely to allow any and every cop a look-in. This was during the terrible days in the 1980s when the Khalistani movement was at its peak and Punjab police (predominantly Sikh) was one of the major targets. Hindu traders and businessmen (and many others no doubt) were also targeted, but they had the option of migrating out of Punjab and settling in Haryana or other states which many of them did, suffering big setbacks though.

The story (or perhaps the legend) of Burhan Wani — parts of it narrated in gushing tone by some — is somewhat similar but involves a little more than getting a scooter modified. Wani decided to wage war against the Indian state and became the poster boy of new Kashmiri militancy; shedding masks and aliases, embracing social media and becoming ‘cool’ for Kashmiri youth. The arrival of the new militancy wave has been reported in media for a long time and the warning signs have been visible.

His death has sparked violent protests in the valley, with police stations being torched, public property destroyed, policemen attacked with intent to kill, paramilitary camps attacked by violent mobs. At the last count, 21 people had died. According to reports, the forces timed Wani’s encounter after the by-election in Anantnag where CM and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti was contesting and won. Read more.

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