Amongst the districts in south Kashmir, Shopian is particularly alienated and angry
Srinagar: The Indian government’s interlocutor on Kashmir on Wednesday appealed to the government forces to “show restraint” in the Valley and put an end to “civilian killings”, describing the recent spate of violence in the region as a “setback”, the Hindustan Times reported today.
“Civilian killings must stop. The security forces must show restraint and not resort to disproportionate firing,’’ Dineshwar Sharma, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau, said in an interview.
“I was hoping for a better summer but violence has come as a setback. Amongst the districts in south Kashmir, Shopian is particularly alienated and angry. We must be sensitive while dealing with the people of Kashmir,’’ he added.
Sharma was appointed as a special representative by the Centre on October 23 to hold a sustained dialogue with all stakeholders, and has made several visits to Jammu and Kashmir, including one in late February to Shopian, where three civilians were killed by Army bullets on January 27 during a protest, and four were shot dead along with two militants on March 4.
After his first visit to the Valley on taking charge as the interlocutor, Sharma recommended the withdrawal of cases against first-time stone pelters. The decision was announced a few days later by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti in November.
Cases were withdrawn against nearly 4,000 stone pelters as a goodwill gesture, but the army has now questioned the decision.
“The cases were withdrawn as a goodwill gesture but what goodwill are they showing? The stone pelting continues,” army chief General Bipin Rawat said on February 23.
Matters between the army and the state government have come to a head in recent weeks over the naming of an army officer, Major Aditya (Kumar), who was leading a convoy that killed three civilians. The Army said it fired in self-defense, a claim refuted by the locals.
Mufti announced a magisterial inquiry into the killing of civilians, but the Supreme Court has restrained the state police from probing the army saying, “He (Major Aditya Kumar) is an army officer, not a criminal.’’
Sharma said he planned to go back to the troubled district and engage with young people there. “I will visit Shopian again,’’ he said, adding, “I feel very sad when I see Kashmir in trouble.’’