Why India should stop alienating Kashmir further

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Once again Kashmir valley is simmering with tension. Three young lives have been lost, as battle between civilians and army men have started in the valley. The feeling of being alienated have started showing its sign among the Kashmiris once again. Once again the pain in valley is palpable. And, it was Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah who first echoed his fear of alienation among Kashmiris in the wake of hanging of Afzal Guru.

"Govt would have to convince the world that Afzal's execution wasn't selective". "There is generation of young Kashmiri people who feel alienated and victimised and now it is up to the govt to answer", added Omar.

Raising serious questions against government and its absurd way of handling Guru's case, Omar said,"You don't just hang somebody to satisfy the 'collective conscience' of the society."

Snowfall in Srinagar

J&K Chief Minister further added that govt should have allowed the family to meet Afzal Guru for the last time. "Sending a letter via speed post in this era implies that there is something wrong in the system. As a human, I believe, they should have allowed the meeting and could have kept it secret. As was done with the Delhi Gangrape victim's identity."

Omar knows and understands the thin line separating peace and violence in Kashmir. Perhaps, he fears "politics" has been played by the government surrounding the execution of Guru, who his supporters say was not given a fair trail. Moreover, evidence against Guru, prime convict in the Indian Parliament attack 2001 was thin and circumstantial.

The main question raised against the government decision to execute Guru is why now? Why his mercy petition was lying in the corridors of President's office for so long. If his crime was real and brutal, why he was allowed to live for 12 long years? Was the "conscious" of government was sleeping at that time?

These questions are not difficult to understand for a Kashmiri on the streets of the valley. He knows it well, as they have suffered in the hands of Indian army men since ages.

In an exclusive interview of Tabassum Guru, 34, wife of deceased Afzal in DNA, she said that her husband wanted to live a normal life, like any other Kashmiri. Tabassum told her husband was attracted to the movement led by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, much like thousands of other youth in the 90s.

He went to Pakistan for training, was soon disillusioned and returned to Kashmir within three months.

"My husband wanted to return to normal life and with that intention he surrendered to the Border Security Force (BSF). The BSF commandant refused to give him the surrender certificate that would have allowed him to live in peace until he had motivated two others to surrender," she told DNA in an exclusive interview from her home in Seer Jagir village, near Sopore.

In her interview, Tabassum clearly says how our security men sent by government sitting in the national capital are abusing laws to harass Kashmiris.

"But he was constantly harassed to work as a spy. One Major Ram Mohan Roy of 22 Rashtriya Rifles tortured Afzal, giving electric shocks to his private parts, humiliating and abusing him to the hilt. My husband just wanted to live a normal life," she said.

In the interview, Tabassum alleged that two deputy superintendents Vinay Gupta and Davinder Singh demanded Rs1 lakh for his release. "I had to sell the little gold ornaments I had make his release possible," she said.

Story of Guru can be heard in every households of Kashmir. Most of the youths of 90s have lost and ruined their lives for a cause called "azadi". Azadi (Freedom) did not come to valley, but entire Kashmir turned into a war zone where India and Pakistan still continue to play their "dirty" politics.

Since 90s when Kashmiri youth started their struggle for self-determination, reports say 68,000 people have died, 10,000 have disappeared, and at least 100,000 have been tortured.

After the news of execution of 43-year-old Guru was flashed in news channels, bad days for valley started again. Curfew has been imposed, roads are barricaded by men in army fatigues, media has been gagged, and of course protesters have taken upon the streets.

Three people, including a young boy, have died in clashes between those protesting against Guru's execution and law enforcement agencies since Saturday. Another 50 people, including 23 policemen, have been injured in those clashes. Fourteen companies of the Border Security Force, or BSF, were sent to the Valley today.

Instead of sending more army troops to Kashmir, isn't it the duty of the leaders to reach out to the people of the valley? People in valley want to be heard, addressed and cured. Their sufferings cannot be addressed by the barrel of a gun.

Kashmir needs healing. Will the healing balm comes from the establishment? Or, will valley be thrown again to fight the disquieting silence of Indian establishment? This time, India can't afford to alienate Kashmir, especially its youth further. There is a huge gap, but it can be crossed and reached out. Time for India to reach out to Kashmir and its people.

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