Restoration of peace and normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir is what every citizen expects from the Central government, especially after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. Of course, there have been a lot of claims that J&K had never been that peaceful and everything is now hunky-dory. While everyone would like to believe what Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha says, periodic reports from the border districts have not been confidence-inspiring. They suggest that terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism, has not been eradicated. On December 21, four army personnel and a driver were ambushed and killed, obviously by terrorists who had sneaked into the country from across the border.
The incident clearly points to the failure of intelligence-gathering, as the Army unit had no clue about what the terrorists were up to. That they were able to get away is something that is difficult to comprehend. The authorities found an easy way out. They captured nine local men who they suspected had helped the terrorists and tortured them to ferret out the truth. In the process, three of them died while six others are alive to tell the world what happened to them. Surely, their version would not show the armed forces in a good light. As reports suggest, a Brigadier-rank officer has been transferred. As part of the fire-fighting measure, the Army Chief, General Manoj Pande, visited the area, while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to visit on Wednesday.
All said and done, the armed forces remain one of the most respected institutions in the country. They have a reputation for their professionalism and integrity despite efforts to politicise them. True, in the past, too, there were isolated incidents when the ground-level officers took the law into their own hands, forcing higher authorities to take remedial action. Had the officers followed the applicable protocol, they would not have arrested so many civilians without evidence. Suspicion is not grounds for arrest and torture. Gathering concrete evidence so that they can be booked under the laws is far more important. In that case, the three men in the 27-42 age group would not have died in questionable circumstances. For the Army, means are as sacred as the ends.