The continuing killing of minority community members and non-locals in Kashmir Valley has made it abundantly clear that this barbaric trend has approval of those from across the Line of Control [LoC] who are masterminding the so called ‘armed struggle’ here. What’s even more disturbing is the perfunctory response of various local organisations and groups who are otherwise are extremely vocal in condemning violence in Kashmir. A hitherto fore largely unknown group calling itself ‘The Resistance Front’ [TRF] has taken responsibility for these attacks, but it hasn’t explained as to how exactly is targeting innocent people of minority communities and non-local migrants contributing to the success of their ‘armed struggle’?
Why TRF is not doing so could be because it either doesn’t have any logical explanation to offer, or simply because it doesn’t consider this necessary since influential groups like the Hurriyat and Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society [JKCCS], that proudly claim to be stakeholders in Kashmir seem to be the least concerned by these killings?
Extinguishing human lives can never be justified, no matter how grave the provocation might be – most certainly not when the victims happen to be innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the ongoing conflict or violence in Kashmir. Au contraire, while targeting people on basis of their religion or because they happen to be ‘outsiders’ eking out an honest living in Kashmir are undisputedly acts of terrorism. So, public silence on this bloody pogrom is tantamount to tacit approval. So, despite what TRF might say, the fact of the matter is that while there are no positives of such killings, its negatives are plenty.
There are no doubts that such killings will have an adverse effect on the entire commercial ecosystem in Kashmir Valley, and the worst hit will be the tourism sector that is just recovering after a tourist ‘drought’ due to the covid pandemic. Though tour operators have been giving a host of assurances, and I too had tried to play down security threat to tourists by citing past statistics, but yet I failed to convince two of my friends, who have since cancelled their upcoming Kashmir trip due to security concerns. I’m sure that due to repeated incidents of non-locals being targeted in Kashmir Valley, there must be many more who’ve decided to shelve their visit plans.
Secondly, by targeting minority communities, the TRF has sent out the signal that there’s no place for non-Muslims in Kashmir. Whereas the majority of Muslims in Kashmir Valley may not share this brazenly communal viewpoint, it nevertheless makes ‘outsiders’ wary. Anyone planning to set up an industrial unit here will perforce have to bring along non-local experts to train and guide locals in operating machinery and other production related procedures. However, since non-locals are specifically being targeted in Kashmir, this negative trend will make those desirous of setting up industrial units here think twice!
Thirdly, such targeted killings of people belonging to minority communities will surely encourage fundamentalist forces like Islamic State of Iraq and Levant -Khorasan [ISIL-K] which are desperately trying to gain entry into Kashmir Valley and turn it into a ‘caliphate’. The people of Kashmir shouldn’t forget that if such radical groups that follow their own skewed interpretation of Islam and sharia succeed in establishing themselves here, Kashmir will face the onslaught of sectarian violence and lose its centuries old unique cultural and social values.
Lastly, targeting of migrant workers by TRF could well generate anti-Kashmiri feelings in the states to which the victims belong and so, Kashmiris working outside the Union Territory of J&K may become unfortunate targets of retaliatory violence. As this has happened in the past, its repetition cannot be ruled out. Thus, the ultimate losers will be the people of Kashmir since they would be deprived of much-needed employment opportunities within Kashmir and not be welcome in some other parts of the country.
While TRF may wax eloquent on how it’s fighting for the wellbeing and bright future of the Kashmiri people, but the reality is that by targeting minority communities and non-locals, it is doing just the opposite. How damaging such killings are is evident from the fact that even Pakistan, which otherwise keeps praising terrorists in Kashmir by referring to them as “freedom fighters” and “rebels” hasn’t mentioned a word in support of TRF or its activities.
This is why the Hurriyat and JKCCS needs to take a serious note of the senseless and self-debilitating violence of targeted killings by TRF. If this is not done and TRF allowed a free run, then in the days to come, it’s the people of Kashmir who will have to pay a heavy price!