By Sushil Kutty
First the press should stop calling a stone-pelter ‘civilian’. Second, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti should correct herself; the soldiers who were forced to fire on the lynching mob of stone-throwers are not ‘black sheep’. Third, the FIR against 10 Garhwal unit should be withdrawn immediately and an FIR be lodged ASAP against the stone-pelters, including those who were killed in the Army firing.
A third stone-pelter died on Wednesday, succumbing to bullet wounds he sustained while throwing stones at the army convoy in Shopian. Two others were killed on January 27, the day 250 of them, all rogue elements financed and instigated by separatists in the pay of Pakistan, chose to attack the army convoy with stones.
The FIR lodged by the Jammu and Kashmir Police against the personnel of 10 Garhwal of the Army are under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code. An Army Major, who allegedly led the army personnel at the time of the incident, was also named in the FIR.
CM Mehbooba Mufti was personally behind lodging the FIR. Her motives are suspicious. She has failed miserably in ruling the state. Her obvious sympathy for pro-Pakistan elements, who are the reason for her ineffective leadership, stands exposed. The state government’s writ does not run in the Valley anymore. She should step down and make way for someone capable, if there are any in the PDP.
Or, like BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy said “her government should be toppled”. In that he is talking against his own party but it is about time the BJP saw the writing on the wall. The PDP-BJP alliance cannot hold together because even if it is not an “unholy alliance”, as the opposition Congress puts it, it is very much a failed alliance which has, despite the successes of the security forces in eliminating scores of cross-border terrorists, failed to govern effectively the state and put the separatists out of business.
If anybody is a ‘black sheep’, it is Mehbooba Mufti and her party PDP. Those of us who have ‘army’ in the family know our kith and kin in the army better than a pro-enemy Mehbooba Mufti. We have lived with our soldier-in-the-family day in and day out right from their birth and growing up and we know their minds better.
Besides, it is impossible that the Indian Army and institutions such as the National Defence Academy and Indian Military Academy train soldiers and officers to become “black sheep”, kill unarmed people, rape and pillage. If that was so, they wouldn’t be able to face their families back home when they come on furloughs and leave, face their mother, wife, father, brother, sister, children.
The firing in Shopian was in self-defence. There was provocation and a life-threatening situation for the army unit, out of which the only way out was retaliatory firing. Armies nowhere in the world are trained to instil in them with “a duty to die at the hands of rogues and pro-enemy secessionists” unless it is for the country in an all-out war with the enemy. Army lives are not cheap. If the stone-pelter in the Valley has been given by Mehbooba the right to kill with stones, she must not forget the army under provocation has been trained to kill. There are no half-measures with the army. Soldiers shoot to kill with chest and head shots, not under the knee shots.
There was no reasoning with the mob of 250. The army took the right decision. The army has conducted an inquiry into the “incident” and given a clean chit to its soldiers. The state government’s inquiry is a sham, lodged because there are pro-Pakistan elements even in the PDP with CM Mehbooba Mufti right there in the circle of “suspicion”.
The so-called “civilians” who throw stones at security forces have been molly-coddled by the Mufti government, given amnesty and a free walk, and after a lull, when the central government cracked down on them, separatists are once again calling the shots in the Valley.
The Modi government too has failed on many counts. It defies logic that a so-called “Hindu nationalist party” led government has chosen to align with forces inimical to India. As of now, the “nation does not stand” with the BJP. It is too late now for the BJP to making amends with the general elections too close for comfort for the party. The BJP boast that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir would be taken back during this tenure of the BJP government at the Centre was pure hogwash spoken from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
The BJP has “strongly protested the FIR” but at the same time, its partner in the state, the PDP, has asserted that the FIR would be taken to a “logical conclusion”. The Modi government and the BJP are taking a big risk. The minimum they should do is to lodge an FIR against the stone-pelters. Mehbooba Mufti’s statement that the FIR would not demoralise the Army has been spoken by a woman who doesn’t know the difference between an army and a lynching mob of stone-pelters. If anybody is a “black sheep”, it is Mehbooba Mufti.