Yesterday, in a combat operation with a militant, the security forces were attacked with stones by locals in Kashmir. The Army chief had already warned the civilians in the past, and yesterday, security forces fired at the civilians, killing three of them. Before you brand the civilians as “anti-nationals” or “Pakistani spies”, let’s ask a fundamental question – why did they attack the security forces involved in a shootout against a militant? This is not the first time the locals have targeted the security forces in middle of an operation. This has been happening for over 2 years now. This brings me back to my question – why did they attack the soldiers? Let’s go deeper for the reason.
For a long time now, when involved in an operation against militants hidden in civilian areas, army has restored to extreme steps. They simply blow away the house in which the militant is hiding. While this is a simple step which takes no time and ensures minimum casualties to the security forces, it also destroys the houses of the locals and their neighbors. You see, a house is just not a place where you live with your family. It contains all your belongings, your memories. It contains everything you have created and preserved ever since you were born! Once your home destroyed, you become a homeless orphan, with no place to live in with your family. So, when the army bombs the entire house to kill one or two militants, it creates immense anger and hatred in the locals against the armed forces. Even in the operation yesterday, the army bombed the house to kill one militant when there were over 150 cops and soldiers surrounding the area. We must stop using these “shortcuts” if we want to regain the trust and support of the Kashmiri locals.
Please realize that the militant had come to die anyway. If his death created a divide between the locals and security forces, this is the best case scenario for him. We are simply helping the militants and separatists by bombing houses of civilians. If the security forces are outnumbered or the situation is extreme, then bombing can be understood, but this new trend to simply use this extreme measure in every situation is grave and stupid.
After two ruined tourist seasons, something like this in the beginning on the new tourist season in Kashmir can be devastating. Any more trouble in the valley, and we’ll lose everything. This is going to a very difficult and fragile summer in the valley. We must not make it more difficult for ourselves.