The old theory of there being “lies, damn lies and police statistics” has just been re-validated. That too by the union home ministry in no less exalted a forum than the Supreme Court. While alarm bells ring on Kashmir, the ministry claimed an improvement in the situation and came up with a typically bureaucratic distortion that while on July 9 as many as 201 “incidents” had been reported, the number had fallen to “only 11” on August 3. And that considerably fewer areas were now under curfew. Yet on the very day it presented its picture in court three civilians had been killed and 150 hurt in clashes. Significantly, the court was presented no statistics on how many had been injured when the security forces opened fire with the “non-lethal” pellet guns that have attracted international condemnation. North Block feels it has done enough by appointing an “expert panel” to evaluate the weapons. Will the ministry respond to the plea to the media of the mother of a pellet gun victim not to publish pictures of her battle-scarred son — lest the police “identify” him for reprisal action? Across the political spectrum (the National Conference, Congress and the CPI-M ) there is much criticism of the PDP-BJP government in the state, as well as the Central government for failing to attempt political action, and deeming the problem a mere law-and-order issue. Criticism that has come from a non-political entity as well: Ruveda Saleem, the first woman from Kashmir to “crack” the UPSC and is now serving as an IPS officer, articulated her anxieties on social media. That provoked a Senior Superintendent of Police to advise that “ignorant lady” to “quit and join the militants”. Little further evidence is needed to confirm that the administration has come close to collapse and it is apprehended that the military will be requisitioned again — though this time around it is the J&K police that is drawing the militants’ fire.
It is not the administrative apparatus alone that is crumbling. Mehbooba Mufti appears clueless and could only appeal to the Centre to emulate Vajpayee. All these years she had argued against a “military solution”, was accused of having a soft-spot for the “anti-Delhi” agitators — they have not reciprocated her conciliatory efforts and exposed her as having no game-plan of her own. What is intriguing is the silence of the state BJP. Had the political equation been different it would have been vocal in demanding that the security forces launch a crackdown. The home ministry remains in a state of perpetual slumber; a few days back it told the Rajya Sabha that drug abuse in Punjab was “not alarming”. Has it “stoned” itself into not accepting harsh realities in the Valley too?