The attacks on civilians in J&K are the last futile attempts by terrorists to establish their writ. The descent to such tactics is the result of the changing mindset of the common people in the Union Territory. It is clear that the Modi-style comprehensive reforms are being appreciated as genuine attempts at improving conditions, particularly for ordinary folk. Sadly, in the short term, this ‘targeting’ strategy will continue and the victims will be the Kashmiri Muslims. This is because the government can and will withdraw Hindu, particularly ‘outsiders’ to safer places. This is not exactly an option for people from the Muslim Community, who will have to continue the effort to get out of the clutches of terrorism and hypocritical public representatives through personal resolve and commitment.
The best response from the government would be to continue with its ongoing efforts and not be sent off track by the desperate stooges of Pakistan. In fact, the targeted killings should prove an eye-opener for the Kashmiris as it clearly shows they are merely considered pawns by those who claim to be their sympathisers. The attempt is to make them fall in line with the separatist agenda. The truth is that, were it not for the religious card, the natural instinct of the Kashmiri is for peace and prosperity.
Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has warned that the next target could be the Amarnath Yatra. Indeed, it has always been in the terrorists’ cross-hairs, but the fact that it continues is due to the hard work put in by the security forces, which have been, thus far, a step ahead of the killers. This is actually why the ‘soft targets’ are being chosen, as the more strategic ones are solidly defended.
The real challenge will come when elections are held. It cannot be said whether statehood will be restored before that happens. PM Modi usually likes to spring surprises like that to win public favour. The problem is whether the political parties are ready and able to continue with the development policies being implemented at the present. The effort probably will be to more fully integrate the state in terms of physical infrastructure, and administratively, before installing a state government.
In the meanwhile, the intelligence agencies would do well to identify the source of this enhanced focus on individual civilians by the terrorists, so that it can be dealt with in an appropriate way.