The attack on the heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway on Thursday afternoon in the Pulwama district of Indian-Occupied Kashmir which killed at least 40 members of the Indian Central Reserve Police Force adds another chapter to the violence that has destroyed tens of thousands of lives in the valley, notably since 1989 when an uprising began against Indian occupation of the disputed territory. The attack was carried out as a vehicle loaded with over 300kg of explosives rammed into a convoy of buses bringing more than 2,500 CRPF personnel into Jammu and Kashmir. According to reports, the militant group, Jaish-e-Muhammad, has accepted responsibility for the attack
This attack forms a part of the endless cycle of violence and suffering that has torn apart Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir and created agony on a scale that is virtually unparalleled anywhere in the world. There is no justification for violence, by anyone, anywhere and the attack has been condemned by all, including the Pakistan government, even as from New Delhi fingers have been pointed in the expected direction. But there is a need to assess the Kashmir situation with greater neutrality, keeping in mind the crucial need to bring its people peace and a right to choose their destiny. The truth – which the Indian government too must face up to – is that such attacks will not cease until there is a resolution to the Kashmir conflict. The reluctance of successive Indian governments to engage in a process of dialogue has led to further misery in the valley and a resultant intensification of such violent reactions. What is most crucial at the moment is to engage all stakeholders in Kashmir, including the various groups located within the valley, to try and find a peaceful settlement that will resolve the dispute that has existed since 1947. Two wars and at least one smaller-scale conflict have brought India and Pakistan face to face with each other over the issue since then.
There is a need to look beyond the terrible sights that continue to come in from Pulwama; and beyond the harsh language and accusations that have followed. The aggression from the Indian media perhaps stems from the unfettered language used by the Modi-led government, which we have heard in India since 2014. The violence in Kashmir had jumped up by many notches since 2016, when young Burhan Wani was killed by Indian security forces. This act triggered a response from Kashmiri youth which should have been predicted. The violence inflicted on young people who turned on to the streets with their feeble sticks and stones, and were met with pellets which blinded children, can only fuel further hatred and a resort to joining hands with militant organisations that operate within Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. More than seven decades after Partition and following the continued loss of life taking place in the divided territory, all players must now finally look for peace and to begin the vital process of dialogue. Neither violence nor pointless allegations will help bridge the trust divide. The tragedy of Kashmir and its people has continued for far too long, and taken far too many lives on all sides. It’s time to work for peace.