Loaded with many controversies, the year 2017 has added to the memories of hope, digression, brutalization and perversion in Kashmir’s history. The NIA clutch on separatist leaders, massive anti-militancy operations, braid chopping scenario, setting up of an interlocutor by the Government of India and initiatives on surrender of militants, kept Kashmir in the news.
Though the people were apprehensive about another uprising on the first anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani who got killed in mid-summer of 2016, the situation didn’t turn bad as the five months long summer uprising had morally, emotionally and financially drained the people living in the Valley.
Since the beginning of 2017, the security forces were activated to carry out the biggest anti-militancy operations to “wipe out” militancy in Kashmir which had got hampered due to massive uprising during second half of 2016. Besides anti militancy operations in which more than 200 militants were killed this year, the Centre, in a move to get a grip on the separatist leadership, struck another nail in the form the National Investigation Agency which launched a massive crackdown on separatists and some businessmen for their alleged involvement in funding unrest and militancy in Kashmir.
As the anti-militancy operations and NIA crackdown dominated the scene, the governance and promises made by the coalition partners, PDP and BJP, in their ‘agenda of the alliance’, took a hit. There was no urgency shown by neither the state government nor the government of India to initiate any movement for talks on Kashmir issue. The issues related to governance like return of power projects, vacation of land by the army, etc. also didn’t see light of the day during 2017.
On one hand, the hard approach of the Centre gave birth to another militant faction led by Zakir Musa, named as chief of Al-Qaeda linked, Ansar Ghuzwat-Ul-Hind. But on the other hand, the soft and appealing approach of state government made a surrender of a 20-year old footballer-turned-militant Majid Khan possible. Majid had joined the militant ranks barely a week ahead of his surrender
The people had not come out of the tension of anti-militancy operation, NIA raids and other issues that a mysterious incident started happening across the valley. This time, it was the phenomenon of braid chopping that started in August and continued for two months which led to a wave of fear and panic in Kashmir. While separatists alleged that the government agencies were behind the acts of chopping the braids of women, the government and J&K police asserted that the incidents were linked to the mental health of the victims, though, barring a few incidents, they couldn’t prove the claims.
Such was the fear created in Kashmir and owing to absence of any action on part of law enforcing agencies, the vigilante groups took upon themselves to protect their areas, resulting in thrashing of innocent persons who were caught at wrong place and wrong time.
Whatever happened during this or previous years, Kashmir has always remained a hot potato. The situation of uncertainty created by known or unknown powers has always impacted the lives of the people here. Fear has become institutionalized; be it of a soldier wielding a gun on the street or the mysterious braid-choppers. Who will take us out of this boiling cauldron, remains unanswered. Here’s hoping the new year brings some cheerful news for our people.