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Quell the riots

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Kishtwar in Jammu region of Jammu & Kashmir State has been burning since August 9. While it is still too early to say who is fuelling the fires, the...

Kishtwar in Jammu region of Jammu & Kashmir State has been burning since August 9. While it is still too early to say who is fuelling the fires, the Government should deal mercilessly with whoever is behind it; rather, all behind it. Three persons have died so far in the mindless violence, and how many of them belonged to which community is not important but that three Indians died is. Meanwhile, politicians of all hues must keep away from the troubled area; if they do not do so voluntarily, they should be forcibly kept away for more reasons than one.

At a time when the Line of Control is hotting up with repeated firings by Pakistani forces, any attempt by anyone to communalize the polity should be treated as a treasonable offence, no less. If cells, sleeping or wakeful, of enemy countries are up to some mischief, as they clearly are to go by the posters that reportedly appeared on the walls of Kishtwar town just before the riots broke out, the question that arises is what our authorities are doing to foil their designs. It is all right to say that the violence is designed to “separate” the Jammu region from the Kashmir valley, but such value judgments need to be avoided in national interest.

It is to the credit of the sensitive border State that even at the worst of times in its history, such as when Pandits were forced to flee the valley to escape persecution by hardcore elements and militants, there was no communal divide, much less any attempt to delink Jammu from the Kashmir valley. It is indeed a measure of the traditional communal amity in the State that even recently when two sects of Muslims fought each other, newspapers had reported, and carried photographs to show, that the only house that had remained unaffected by the sectarian fury belonged to a Hindu! The supreme example of the bonds between the two communities was provided by the State when it turned out to be probably the only one to have remained unaffected by the demolition of the Babri mosque in December 1992.

Whatever could have happened to all those lofty traditions on the holy day of Ramzan Eid this year? Of course, a judicial commission headed by a former judge of the State High Court has been set up to investigate the Kishtwar riots, and the nation will hope that it will identify the culprits. But where is the guarantee that its recommendations will be acted upon by the State and the Central governments? After all, the report of the Srikrishna Commission, which investigated the Mumbai carnage of 1993, has been consigned to the archives for possible reference by future generations; not a single of its recommendations has been implemented.

That is true also of reports on all riots from those in Malliana to those in Meerut and Bhagalpur. If the Government lacks either the political will or the courage, or both, to implement ruthlessly the recommendations of such commissions, why does it appoint them in the first instance? It is good that the Minister of State for Home Affairs in the J&K government has resigned after he was accused of complicity in the Kishtwar riots, because if the judicial commission exonerates him of the charge he can be reinstated with greater dignity.

Pending that event, politicians of all parties should be prevented from visiting trouble spots, whether after a bomb blast as at Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad or in Kishtwar after the current riots. Through such visits, they only delay investigation as the police or paramilitary forces find it more prudent to protect them than to continue with their investigations by neglecting them. No political leader around has “the healing touch”.

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