Danger In The Valley
- The hanging of Afzal Guru, a local Kashmiri, has convinced many youngsters in J&K that the Indian state is ready to trample on their rights. There is open talk of rebellion on the internet. “Guru is martyred. Welcome to another 30 years of war,” says a Facebook post.
- This is especially because of the perception that Afzal was not given a fair trial and executed by the Congress to appeal to Hindutva votes in 2014.
- Scores of Kashmiris are in jails or in hiding after the 2010 ‘street intifada’. Silence over 125 civilian deaths due to police and CRPF action hasn’t helped. Police has filed FIRs in only 20 cases, while even minors have been punished in stone-pelting incidents.
- At the political level, things are not moving forward. The New Delhi-Srinagar dialogue remains stalled for the past many years. Afzal’s hanging now ensures Hurriyat will stay away from talks at least for a couple of years. Polls due in Kashmir late next year.
- Despite statements and promises, AFSPA continues to remain in force across the Valley and there seems little hope that the army will agree to any withdrawal, even partial. A complete withdrawal would have been a big confidence-booster.
- The rise of Hindu terrorism and Hindutva across the country makes many Kashmiris sceptical about a safe future with and in India.
Kashmir has now got its second empty martyr’s grave. And somehow, the mere fact of it being empty gives it more resonance—as if an echo chamber has been added to that other one lying vacant, that of Maqbool Bhat. The one reason why Mohammed Afzal Guru’s body was not handed to his family was the fear that his grave would become a rallying point for anti-India sentiments in the Valley. That effect is all the more palpable in absentia—with his body lying secured and quarantined in a grave in Delhi’s Tihar jail. The hasty, early morning hanging of Afzal Guru has become a new inflection point in the Kashmir story—its violent history of estrangement and anger.