Post Wani killing, ‘peaceful pockets’ in J&K witness protests

Government taken unawares by new pattern of violence; another worrying aspect is attacks on minority colonies in Pulwama, say police

July 10, 2016 11:08 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:02 pm IST - Srinagar:

Protesters clash with police in Batmallo, Srinagar, on Sunday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

Protesters clash with police in Batmallo, Srinagar, on Sunday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

The Jammu and Kashmir government is grappling with a new pattern of violence in the aftermath of the killing of Hizb-ul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

A senior police official told The Hindu that a contingency plan was in place to counter the fallout of Wani’s killing. Due to this, “no death was reported in the violence-prone areas of Anantnag, Tral and Pulwama towns.” However, the State administration was not prepared for trouble in otherwise peaceful pockets such as Anantnag’s Seer area, D.H. Pora in Kulgam and Pulwama’s Haal area.

D.H Pora, where both the PDP and the National Conference hold sway, saw people torching a Range Office, a Court Complex and a fire tender. Mobs also overtook the police station, snatched weapons and began firing at three policemen.

Seer, which remained peaceful during previous agitations, also saw the death of a civilian.

“The security challenge has come from fringe areas and peripheries this time. We will be assessing its causes,” said Additional Director General of Police, CID, S.M. Sahai.

Pandit houses torched

Another worrying aspect is the attacks on minority colonies in Pulwama where, the police said, two abandoned houses of Pandits were set afire by mobs. A Pandit colony in Haal was stoned by protesters as were two BJP offices and an MLA’s house.

A senior PDP leader in Pulwama, on the condition of anonymity, admitted that even at the peak of the 2008 and 2010 street agitations “no attempt was made to attack minority colonies or their property in the Valley.”

“Now, people risk lives and enter security installations without fear of armed security forces,” he said. These attacks come at a time when a debate is raging over the State government’s proposal to set up separate Pandit colonies, opposed by separatists and many local Muslims.

Experts say there is a deep-seated anxiety among the masses after the government pushed ahead with contentious issues such as setting up Sainik colonies, permanent shelters for non-local migrant population and BJP-backed exploration of new Hindu pilgrimages. The absence of dialogue is adding to the concerns.

“There is pent-up anger due to the issues raked up in the recent past. Wani was a charismatic figure, but, at the base of it, people found expression to a political point, unfortunately, in killing,” said Sidiq Wahid, former Vice-Chancellor of the Islamic University of Science and Technology.

MLA says Wani “ruled hearts”

Independent MLA Engineer Rashid organised a funeral procession in his north Kashmir constituency of Langate on Sunday for Wani, saying that the slain Hizb commander “ruled hearts.”

“The Government of India may celebrate the death of Burhan, but forgets that it has lost a bigger battle in Kashmir. Why lakhs of people attended Wani’s funeral? It has proven Burhan ruled the hearts and the government ruled the heads,” said Mr. Rashid after the funeral prayers.

Over 5,000 supporters of Mr. Rashid gathered at Qalamabad to offer funeral prayers in absentia for Wani.

Mr. Rashid alleged that the Government of India “does not treat or believe the people of Kashmir as its own.”

“Security agencies admitted that Wani and his team had not crossed the Line of Control to get arms training. Whatever is happening in the State is spontaneous. The Government of India should declare every Kashmiri a terrorist or must understand that the problem is beyond the scope of law and order and needs a solution,” he said.

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