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Editorial | Kashmir: The Centre must choose options carefully

It must go after terrorists, but remember that the Kashmir’s problem is political

Updated: Feb 15, 2019 00:26:01

Hindustan Times

Security forces near the damaged vehicles at Lethpora on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, February 14 (Waseem Andrabi/HT)

In a major terror attack in South Kashmir’s Awantipora area, a suicide bomber targeted a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy, killing at least 42 CRPF personnel and wounding others. Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber as a local militant. The attack is worse than the one in Uri, where terrorists killed 19 army men. The Narendra Modi government responded to the Uri attack by carrying out surgical strikes across the Line of Control and hitting multiple targets. In a departure from the past, the government even took credit for the strikes. The government’s temptation — especially in an election year — will be to go for a muscular response to avenge the killings, but it must weigh its options and choose with care.

The prime minister and his colleagues are already speaking in terms of an “unforgettable response”. The government — any government, for that matter — has the right to choose its response. New Delhi must, however, remember that the surgical strikes of 2016, to avenge the Uri deaths, had little impact on the ground reality in the Valley, particularly in South Kashmir, which was the epicentre of yesterday’s attack. The Jaish, headquartered in Pakistan, has for long targeted India. It was also responsible for the terror attack in Pathankot in 2016. On Thursday, the terror organisation used a local Kashmiri recruit for its suicide attack.

Restraint is not easy when security personnel are killed in such large numbers, but it is important that the Centre draws a fine line. It must definitely use the proverbial stick to go after terrorists. At the same time, it must not forget that politics lies at the heart of the insurgency. Soldiers will be the boots on the ground, but they don’t deserve to die. While the government prepares its response, it must also pay heed to the rather ominous reality of locals being willing to turn their bodies into missiles.

First Published: Feb 14, 2019 20:39:32

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