.:.Dawn Editorial on recent carnage in Ramban Jammu and Kashmr.:.
Dawn, July 20:THE protests erupting in India-held Kashmir over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran and the manhandling of a cleric come at a time when the new political set-up in Pakistan is making serious attempts to revive diplomatic efforts to restart the peace process with India.
Thursday’s shooting spree by India’s Border Security Force in Ramban district that left at least four people dead further exacerbated the situation and is a sad commentary on the occupation authorities’ heavy-handed approach to the tense situation in the Valley. The BSF version that the Indian forces opened fire to disperse a crowd approaching an arms and ammunition base was countered by an imam who said the security personnel had come looking for militants. Irrespective of what led to the shooting, one thing is clear: the incident has added fuel to the simmering unrest in the Valley.
All major towns in India-held Kashmir are now under curfew as angry Kashmiris have called for a three-day strike. India’s home minister called the protesters’ killing “saddening” and has ordered an inquiry, while Chief Minister Omar Abdullah remarked that the BSF’s conduct was “unacceptable”. This ritualistic condemnation for record’s sake doesn’t cut much ice. Indian security forces are known to operate with impunity in Kashmir. What is needed in this case is an honest probe into the shooting to establish guilt and punish the perpetrators.
It is about time that New Delhi realised that Kashmir is still at the core of India-Pakistan relations, and that the passage of time has not served to lessen the importance of the issue. A lasting peace between the two countries is hardly possible without a solution that is acceptable to the two countries and, above all, to the people of Kashmir, and that’s where India has shown a regrettable lack of foresight. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif might have conveyed to British Foreign Secretary William Hague his keenness to normalise relations with India, but incidents such as these will not help the peace process.