Where new beginnings lead to dead ends
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But while Abdullah is loud and clear on AFSPA revocation, his own slate isn't clean. The state government has been booking even children under the draconian Public Safety Act, which provides the government with the licence to lock up anybody for a period of up to two years without facing the scrutiny of the courts. This law was introduced in 1978, apparently as a preventive measure against timber smugglers, but its misuse is rampant against political opponents or to carry out the whims of the security establishment.
PDP supremo Mufti Sayeed says the government has "reduced Mahatma Gandhi's country" to a "banana republic" and has "imprisoned an entire population". He also expresses a "serious apprehension" that the Afzal execution may push another generation of Kashmiris towards armed insurrection. Mufti is not only a former chief minister of J&K but a former Union home minister as well.
Kashmiris have a wicked sense of humour and there is a joke doing the rounds that once the curfew restrictions and the information blockade bring the immediate crisis under control, New Delhi will appoint a new set of interlocutors with a mandate to ascertain what Kashmiris really want. As if New Delhi needs a new emissary to provide a different perspective on a solution after every agitation. More seriously, this time, too, a similar strategy has started to play out according to the same script, and such voices will get louder once there is enough proof that the clampdown has exhausted the angry population.
But this time, interlocutors may not even be able to find enough material to write a report. Even the regular hosts of the peace junkets are sceptical this time. There can be little doubt that the emissaries will, instead, be asked to return to Delhi and spend time in the archives to retrieve the findings and reports of their predecessors and convince New Delhi to start implementing some of them. They would be advised to read the press statements that accompanied the report submitted by Dileep Padgaonkar and his team on the Union home ministry's website more than six months ago. The home ministry inserted a caveat saying that the report was the view of the interlocutors, ignoring the fact that they were government appointed and their report wasn't the outcome of a private mission.