The brutal killing of the Editor of the daily Rising Kashmir, Shujaat Bukhari, on the eve of the festival of Eid ostensibly by trigger-happy terrorists in Srinagar is a reminder that terror is no respecter of religion. Shujaat was Kashmir’s best-known journalist and had welcomed the unilateral ceasefire that the Indian political establishment had ordered during Eid festivities in the troubled region. That, and his past deeds as a peace protagonist were enough for terrorists to make him their target.
People at large were happy at the announcement of ceasefire but the terror outfits were in wait to make a big bang impression that they would not tolerate any attempt to bring peace to the valley. That the Pakistan-based terror groups are in cahoots with the establishment in that country, principally the army and its intelligence network, is no secret to anybody.
In a milieu in which the country’s intelligence has failed repeatedly to anticipate major terror strikes, the terrorists acted with impunity driving off on a scooter into the festive milling crowd after their job was done and their prey lay in a hopeless heap.
Futile to blame it on the ceasefire
Even as Shujaat lay dying, his family’s dream of having him back home for Eid shattered, an army jawan was mowed down in Pulwama after being abducted on his way home for Eid and another was killed in gunbattle.
It is futile to blame it on the ceasefire ordered at the behest of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The cycle of violence has been relentless. Shujaat’s brother is a minister in the Mufti government but that is no deterrence in today’s Kashmir valley.
That there is a sense of outrage among people at Shujaat’s killing should help heal at least partly the divide that has been growing among a section of people against the so-called ‘army excesses.’
The healing touch must continue
The army is indeed doing a thankless job, saving the lives of people from an enemy that knows no scruples and yet being blamed for occasional excesses while defending itself from brutal attacks.
It would indeed be folly for the Modi government to come down hard on all and sundry for the terror attacks. The healing touch must continue even as the attack on terror hideouts is intensified. The fifth columnists, especially those in the Hurriyat who enjoy the perks of governmental appeasement, must be unmasked further and dealt with in a manner that befits traitors.
No substitute for tough action
There is indeed no substitute for tough action and for strengthening the intelligence as well as the punitive apparatus of the police, the paramilitary forces and the army dealing with the terror situation.
That the murderous attack on Shujaat coincided with a report produced by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights which blamed India for human rights violations in Kashmir and sought an independent international investigation is no coincidence. Pakistan has been working on many fronts not the least of which is the propaganda machine.
India’s diplomatic offensive, on the other hand, works in spurts and has a tendency to turn complacent. That in today’s world there is a country that is the fountainhead of terror and is an active participant on the sly in instigating and fuelling terror against a neighbouring country should be enough to declare it a pariah and for international sanctions against it, but Pakistan seems to get away with murder.
World must recognise need to bring Pakistan to heel
It is time we renew our diplomatic offensive and insist on the world to recognise the need to bring Pakistan to heel. We make a big thing of the ‘surgical strikes’ we undertook to destroy some camps in Pak-occupied Kashmir where terrorists were being trained. Are we not strong enough to undertake more such strikes to create a strong deterrent against such training camps? The time for half-measures is over. We must now work to meet the Pakistani challenge head-on.