Why Rajnath’s Kashmir trip was a damp squib

Srinagar, July 25: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s two-day Kashmir trip turned out to be a damp squib. Most people who were invited to meet him amid the current unrest – the deadliest in years – refused to see him and almost all the expectations people had from the visit seem to have sunk into despair.

The Home Minister ended the visit on Sunday with old anti-Pakistan rhetoric that had nothing new to offer to angry Kashmiris, who are bearing the brunt of another summer of discontent following dozens of civilian killings and thousands of injuries in firing by security forces on stone-throwing protesters.

As he spoke with the media minutes before jetting back to New Delhi, Rajnath Singh did appeal for peace in the Kashmir Valley, urging youth not to throw stones and asking security forces to avoid using pellet guns that have partially or fully blinded dozens of Kashmiris including minors.

Shah said a mere political posture expressing sympathies with Kashmiris and recognizing their anger would have helped a lot defuse the street anger.

Burhan Wani’s killing was only a trigger, he said.

The fury in Kashmir had been building up over lots of issues, including alleged government provocative proposals for the appropriation of land for separate colonies for retired soldiers, exiled Kashmiri Pandits and permanently rehabilitating west Pakistani Hindu refugees in the state.

“Why don’t you look at your own provocations first? Did Pakistan provoke police to behave in a particular manner? How are you blaming Pakistan for what your police and paramilitary forces did that set in motion the present cycle of violence and counter-violence,” asked Ishfaq Qadri, a university scholar studying Kashmir’s oral history narrative.

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