The situation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been turbulent over the years. The Indian Republic has always said that Kashmir is an integral part of India and every Kashmiri is first and foremost Indian citizen. The recent uproar in the valley has been about the commendation honour given to Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi by the chief of army staff (COAS) Bipin Rawat. The Major had tied a local Kashmiri, Farooq Ahmed Dar , in the bonnet of the jeep as a human shield to calm the situation during the Srinagar by poll last month. The election saw meagre seven percent turnout and due to chaotic and violent situation prevailing in the valley most of the local population had stayed away from the voting process. National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah won the Srinagar seat amidst much violence and dissatisfaction by the local population.
Farooq Ahmed Dar was one of the very few brave Kashmiri, who decided to be part of electoral process and then what transpired has shaken him and has left him angry and frightened. The decision of Major Gogoi to tie a human being and use him as a shield is not justified under any circumstances. The major has said that decision to use Dar as a ‘human shield’ was taken to stop stone pelters, who had surrounded a polling booth and if he had not acted proactively there would have been firing and innocent civilians might have lost their lives.
The decision of the Indian Army to honour Major Gogoi could not have come at a worst time. The people in the valley are losing confidence in the state government ruled by coalition of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The chief minister of state Mehbooba Mufti is fighting a battle against her own people and there is no solution in sight.
The decision of Army chief Bipin Rawat has divided the political class. While the ruling dispensation in the Jammu & Kashmir has welcomed the move, the former chief minister of the state Omar Abdullah has made his displeasure known and said that Kashmiri people are becoming disenchanted with the political system and the sovereignty of the state must prevail.
Former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee talked about insaniyat (humanity), kashmiriyat (Kashmiri values) and jamhooriat (democracy) and the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoes the same feeling. Kashmir has always been an Achilees Heel, but people of Kashmir have always wholeheartedly believed in Indian democracy and continue to support the union of India. The situation in Kashmir needs dialogue rather than confrontation and high handedness.