Jammu and Kashmir’s Holy War

Praveen Swami in Outlook India:

Screenhunter_15_aug_24_1816India’s strategy — if it can be described as one — in essence appears to be one of retreat. Ever since the Police opened fire on protestors seeking to march across the Line of Control (LoC) to Muzaffarabad, leading to street battles which led to the loss of at least twenty lives, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government has withdrawn from confrontation. Large parts of historic Srinagar are in the de-facto control of Islamist groups, with Police and CRPF personnel holding a handful of fortified pickets at major street corners.

Perhaps the most spectacular demonstration of just how far the state’s retreat has gone became evident on August 18, after the J&K government allowed Islamists to stage a massive pro-Pakistan protest in the heart of Srinagar — ignoring warnings from India’s intelligence services that the decision could lead to a meltdown of state authority. Led by the Tehreek-i-Hurriyat’s (TiH) Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the All Party Hurriyat Conference’s (APHC’s) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, at the time of writing, tens of thousands of protestors assembled at Tourist Reception Centre in an unprecedented show of strength, even as Police were ordered off the streets to avoid confrontation.

Srinagar district Commissioner K. Afsandyar Khan and Senior Superintendent of Police S.A. Mujitaba were earlier despatched to stage negotiations on the management of the scheduled protests with Geelani — a de-facto acknowledgment that the Islamist leader has emerged as an alternate source of administrative authority. Their request for the protest to be scaled down was rejected by the Islamist leader. Governor N.N. Vohra and his advisors then ordered Director-General of Police Kuldeep Khoda to move his forces out of central Srinagar, to avoid clashes with protestors.

More here.