Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who was in Kashmir on Tuesday, told the security forces to exercise maximum possible restraint while dealing with mobs in the unrest and uphold human rights. Dalbir Singh's visit comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that dialogue is the way to "find a permanent and lasting solution to the problem within the framework of the Constitution."
With continuing protests in Kashmir, routine security operations have been hampered. Situation in the Valley has gone from bad to worse as the PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir and the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre are trying to soothe all frayed nerves after Hizbul commander Burhan Wani's killing on 8 July.
With hostility towards the Union government and the Indian Army spiking in the Valley, Army Chief Singh, accompanied by the Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda, lauded the humanitarian steps and reinforced the need to synergise efforts with all the other stakeholders. Incidentally, General Singh's remarks were awfully similar to that of Lieutenant General DS Hooda, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC) of the Army's Northern Command, who urged "everybody involved, whether it is security forces, whether it is separatists, governments, student leaders… to find some way forward."
While BJP is spreading the same message among Kashmiris and appealing to the youths of the state to come under the national tricolour and hold it aloft to defeat the designs of separatist forces who are "disturbing peace" in Jammu and Kashmir, separatist leaders said that the political leadership should make such statements.
“Such statements should have come from the political leadership but they are not saying anything. The Army actually controls Kashmir and, therefore, they understand that the current uprising isn’t a mere law and order problem,” Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
As Kashmir entered the 46th day of curfew on Tuesday, General Singh made an earnest appeal to the people to eschew violence and help restore peace and calm at the earliest. The Army Chief's visit to Kashmir came a day ahead of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to the Valley. Eager to outpace the Kashmir turbulence by showing concern to the distraught public, Rajnath is visiting Kashmir again for two days. However, sources within the government have told DNA that unless the Home Minister makes a consequential announcement like banning pellet guns, he will not get a good response.
Leaving New Delhi for Srinagar on a two day visit. Shall interact with civil society groups, political parties and other stakeholders.
The Home Minister also said on Wednesday that he will hold talks with various stakeholders in Kashmir and invited all those who believe in 'Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat' as he arrived in Srinagar.
I will be staying at the Nehru Guest House. Those who believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat are welcome.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) August 24, 2016
Rajnath Singh in his previous visit to Kashmir on 23-24 July had appealed for peace and had said that the Centre wanted to have “emotional ties with the people of Kashmir and not a need-based relationship.” Kashmiri observers feel that such statements could be seen merely as paying lip service and seem insincere. In fact, chances are that Rajnath’s visit may elicit a lukewarm response and after PM Modi’s message that the government wants to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue, there is no possibility of any meeting with Hurriyat leaders.
Rajnath Singh's visit follows a series of meetings the Opposition leaders of the state held in New Delhi last week, including ones with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
The opposition leaders warned the leadership in Delhi that a continuing unrest in the state will further alienate the people of Kashmir. The government is keen to end the cycle of violent protests and counter-offensives that has left at least 68 people dead in over five weeks of unrest. Thousands of civilians and security personnel have been injured.
Home Ministry officials said Rajnath Singh will be accompanied by some senior officials, including home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi. "He will meet the people in Srinagar, political leadership included," a government source told IANS. Singh will also hold meetings with state Governor NN Vohra, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and her Cabinet colleagues.
With inputs from agencies