September 04, 2011
ISLAMABAD: While Srinagar has been resounding with a startling inquiry report by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in Jammu and Kashmir, that acknowledges officially 2,730 unmarked mass graves in 38 graveyards, of which 2,156 contained unidentified bodies, sensation has also been created by an Indian in uniform, who for the first time is trying to approach the people of Indian-held Kashmir in a more humane manner.
His name is Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, who is the first Muslim general of 15 Corps and has recognized the role of Kashmiri students and youth and organized seminars as he declares 2011 the ‘Year of the Kashmiri Awam’.
It is yet too early to assess whether Hasnain will succeed where all others have failed because of their policies and for an ordinary Kashmiri the Indian uniform has always stood for atrocities. In a special cover issue on Kashmir, Outlook speaks to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who claims that the army has become more sensitive to local sentiments, particularly under the present corps commander Lt Gen S A Hasnain, who is emphasizing on respect for the local culture.
“Though the ‘sunwais’ are a good initiative, it needs to be remembered that the army does not resolve problems of local governance. But when it shares the feedback which it is getting with us, that does help,” Abdullah tells Outlook adding that militancy is 40% lower than it was last year at this time.
He adds that there is no denying that Hasnain is possibly the only Muslim among the senior most generals in the army today and has been able to reach out to people here. “He has, for instance, been quick to respond to incidents like the molestation of a girl by an army jawan in Pattan a few weeks ago. Prompt action was taken and tempers cooled down. But vilification of the army still continues, as is evident from the rape charge levied by a Pulwama woman recently. It was a false charge; the forensic report showed no rape. But when the army fails to bring perpetrators of some of the worst atrocities in recent years to book, it becomes its own worst enemy”, adds Abdullah. Other voices of traders, professors, political commentators and researchers claim that Hasnain is proving that the army is finally trying to understand problems and encourages people to come forth with their grievances.
However, missing from the narration are the voices of opposition leaders as well as separatists who so far have not been moved by the new man in khaki. The youth may have turned their ire into peaceful demonstrations and attending seminars but it is clear that it will have to be ‘political will’ in New Delhi rather than a Muslim general to given Kashmiris their rights.(The News)