India called on Pakistan to withdraw from territories it occupies within India and to cease cross-border terrorism.
When the Army chief issued his rather controversial “warning” to stone-pelters in the Kashmir Valley, was it an early symptom of a frustrated force abandoning one of its most cherished professional traditions ~ the capacity to refuse to be provoked into rash action?
Precisely two months from the day of his “talking tough”, a video has gone viral of Rashtriya Rifles personnel lashing an alleged trouble-maker to the bonnet of a jeep to serve as human shield, parading him through several villages, and asking miscreants to stone “one of their own”.
That the Army authorities, both in Srinagar and New Delhi, refrained from immediately condemning the incident and initiating corrective action points to their being somewhat sympathetic to an act of indiscipline and brutality that must bring shame to all those who wear the uniform, regardless of its colour.
Any linking of that outrageous action, reportedly “supervised” by an officer, to other videos in circulation showing paramilitary personnel on election duty being harassed by the “locals” will only confirm apprehensions that several members of the security forces have “accepted” that they are fighting a losing battle: hence acting to settle scores, and reducing to ridicule the high reputation the forces, the Army in particular, had sustained even when conducting the most arduous of duties.
Events over the last eight or nine months add weight to the contention that the forces have now become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. The implications are ominous, both politically and diplomatically. The soldiers are not entirely to blame for the “cracking up”.
The governments in both Srinagar and New Delhi have left them out on a limb, tasking them to resolve a situation for which a military solution is not possible. While previous governments, of all political hues, did attempt political initiatives ~ the Vajpayee administration’s efforts were truly sterling ~ under Mr Narendra Modi the accent has been on “muscle”.
And though chief minister Mehbooba Mufti ostensibly favours dialogue, she had made no positive moves (maybe because she is hamstrung by her alliance partner) and the situation on the ground is one over which the state government is fast losing control. The PDP-NC quarrel only complicates matters, blame-games will not help when people have lost faith ~ as election fiascos underscore.
Opinion is divided over whether a spell of Governor’s Rule will “cool” the crisis: provided Raisina Hill has the moral courage to accept the extent of the deterioration. Massive majorities in a couple of Assemblies, manipulated success in a couple of others are no compensation for a government coming close to “losing” the only “minorities-dominated state” in the nation. That is the self-inflicted “burden” Modi sarkar is having to bear.