By Shruti Appalla
Former Home Minister P Chidambaram attacked the central government for its militaristic approach towards the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He claimed that, despite the Central government’s ‘muscular’ approach towards tackling terrorism in Kashmir, the policy has yielded no results, rather it has exacerbated the situation.
A rising death toll
Chidambaram, quoting data released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), pointed out that the number of civilians and terrorists killed in J&K had almost doubled from 28 to 57 in 2014 and from 110 to 218 in 2017. The number of security forces killed also shot up from 47 to 83 in the same period.
This criticism comes after months of political speculation about the role of the newly appointed special representative Dineshwar Sharma.“On the eve of the election in Gujarat, the government appointed Dineshwar Sharma as Special Representative (SR), but his mandate was not clear… The way forward is to invite all stakeholders for talks. Unfortunately, the stakeholders have perceived the appointment of the SR as a pre-election gimmick and have totally rebuffed the good fellow,” he tweeted.
Chidambaram is not the only opposition leader who has criticised the Modi government in the past few weeks. Another Congress leader, Kapil Sibal, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rhetoric over Jammu and Kashmir has come apart. “Soldiers and policemen martyred almost daily. Will government explain? When will we stop losing lives?” he demanded in a tweet.
Controversial legislation is unpopular in the state
A central issue in the conflict today is the efficiency of the Armed Forces Protection Act (AFSPA), which was imposed on the restive state to establish civil peace and tackle terrorism. Kashmiri leaders have often slammed the Indian government for using unlawful means to ‘fight’ terror, which they claim gives no regard to the sentiments and rights of the local population. The defenders of the AFSPA, on the other hand, claim that the act enables the government to maintain order, protects state personnel and allows for swift action to be taken in cases of national security. However, the casualty figures cited by Chidambaram from the Home Ministry suggest that the AFSPA, contrary to the claims of its defenders, is ineffective.
The questions raised by the minister will continue to be raised as long as the AFSPA is in force in the state. Furthermore, in the run-up to the 2019 election, the state’s politics remain volatile, with the PDP-BJP alliance in doubt. Upcoming debates are likely to question the coherence of the Modi government’s policy towards Jammu and Kashmir.
Featured Image Source: Flickr
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