The brutal killing of an unarmed BSF constable Rameez Parray in Kashmir exposes a dangerous trend in terrorist violence in the strife-torn valley. The selective targeting of law-enforcement officers is now becoming an established modus operandi of the Pakistan-sponsored terrorists. By targeting the uniformed men with a chilling regularity and brazen impunity, the militant groups appear to be sending a message to the Kashmiri youth that joining the forces with the Indian government will be met with swift death punishment. This amounts to throwing a challenge to the security and the mainstream political establishment. It is heart-wrenching that Parray, who was on leave to be with his family members, was dragged out of his home and shot dead in cold blood. An Army Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz was also eliminated in a similar manner when he was at home on the eve of his sister’s wedding. A Deputy Superintendent of Police Mohammed Ayub Pandith was brutally lynched by a radicalised mob in Srinagar in June last. The brutal silencing of the pro-India voices is the new trend. These series of horrific murders should leave no one in doubt that the sensitive border state is now firmly in the grip of radical Islamist forces. No amount of sugar coating would hide the fact that radicalisation of the Azadi movement is now complete. The J&K police and paramilitary forces have become the soft targets for militant groups and the murderous mobs indoctrinated to view them as agents of the Indian State.
This ominous trend must be reversed and more opportunities need to be created for the right-thinking Kashmiri youth to join the law enforcement forces. The safety of the Kashmiri officers serving the police, paramilitary and military forces must be given high priority. Inclusiveness is India’s biggest strength and it should never be allowed to be diluted. Over 1,600 police personnel have sacrificed their lives in Kashmir in the last three decades. The growing radicalisation of local youth is a matter of serious concern. The local militants are said to have outnumbered foreign terrorists in the Valley now. Known for long for their syncretic, liberal Islam and tolerance, the Kashmiris are now being dragged away from their cultural ethos to accept the violent tools of the barbaric organisations like ISIS. A dangerous trend being witnessed in the valley is that the locals are pouring into the streets to obstruct security operations against militants. However, the battle against ideological indoctrination can’t be won by military crackdown alone. Only a political initiative can serve as a balm to the bruised valley. The challenge is to find a solution that addresses the core concerns of the people of the sensitive border State while isolating terror elements and their Pakistani handlers.