Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir was a message to both the people of Kashmir as well as the terrorists. A strong message to the people that they need not lose hope and confidence with desperate attempts to disturb the peace, and a stronger message to the terrorists that the murder of innocent citizens will not be tolerated any longer.
Shah’s visit came in the wake of the killing of seven hapless civilians, including two children, by terrorists in Rajouri district’s Dangri village on 1-2 January. Shah interacted with the family of the victims over the phone from Jammu as his scheduled visit to Rajouri was cancelled on account of bad weather conditions.
The message that the government was standing with the people of Rajouri emboldened the family of victims who had resolved not to leave the area. Undoubtedly, as Shah said, their resilience was an inspiration to the whole country. He announced that the NIA will take up the case for investigation along with the local police. It would not just be the Dangri incident but all incidents that had taken place in the past one and a half years.
The government’s resolve to usher in normalcy in J&K only got strengthened with the recent attacks on civilians. Shah and J&K’s Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, announced the creation of a security grid which would be functional in three months. The 360-degree security ring devised by the government would not only help bust the plans of terrorists but also help in hunting them down and bringing them to book. The announcement may have come as a shock to terrorists who had started targeting civilians in desperation.
The incidents of violence and deaths have decreased after the abrogation of Article 370. Shah said that security agencies have resolved to end terrorism. And now, Shah’s multi-pronged approach to the problem has armed the civilians with confidence. The confidence-building measures include the approval of the Village Defence Guards (VDGs) scheme for Jammu and Kashmir by the Union Home Ministry in August last year. Shah said that security and intelligence agencies are on alert and are prepared to meet the challenges posed by terrorism. They will protect the people and any conspiracy to flare up violence will be foiled.
Twenty companies of CRPF with 2,000 personnel have reportedly been deployed in the disturbed border districts. The CRPF has also been imparting training to Village Defence Guards. The VDG scheme is being implemented with ex-servicemen in villages being armed with automatic weapons and weapons being given to other villagers after requisite training. The offensive will take terrorists by surprise and would prevent them from breaching an environment of peace by attacking civilians.
The abrogation of Article 370 was not just on paper. It was with a purpose. Shah’s repeated visits to the Valley show that he is closely monitoring the target to restore peace. The incidents of violence have dropped significantly. A conducive environment for holding democratic elections does not seem to be far from sight. It is clear that the abrogation of Article 370 was just a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Anika Nazir is a Srinagar-based political commentator and social activist. Her Twitter handle is @i_anika_nazir. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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