Sanctioning prosecution of armymen. Timing is critical.
An angry Omar Abdullah met the Defence Minister, asking for the prosecution of armymen, who allegedly killed two innocent civilians in Sopore. While he will raise the same demand in his meeting with the Home Minister in Srinagar, the army brass has promised him the army enquiry report within the next two to three days. As with many other issues, the real question here is not the government sanction for this prosecution. The issue that should bother all well-meaning Indians is the credibility of the young CM. Do you want Omar to be seen as a lackey of Delhi, doing its bidding in Kashmir, or do you wish him to seen as a credible, strong political figure in the state?
Look at the timing — the separatists are struggling to stay afloat, security in the state has improved manifold and is at pre-1990 levels, Omar is a young CM with little political baggage and another successful parliamentary polls would provide the deathblow to the separatists. The opportunity is now. But the current lame duck government at Delhi seems to be lacking political will and wisdom to understand the significance of this decision now — when will they realise that a small, timely action will achieve much more now than what can be gotten by giving much bigger concessions later.
If the situation continues to improve at the same pace in the state, the next government at Delhi will have to take bigger decisions. It will have to seriously look at the continuation of AFSPA in the state, if it desires complete normalcy in the state. That will be a real conundrum to resolve.
P.S. — While on Kashmir, here is what the Pullitzer prize winning journalist, Steve Coll, said in his testimony before the US Commission on International Religious Freedom:
The (Pak) army took the extraordinary steps that it did to enter into these negotiations over Kashmir, essentially threatening to reverse decades of policy in this negotiation with India, it was not coercion that brought them to the table; it was aspiration. They wanted, Musharraf in particular, the international legitimacy, the credibility. He wanted to be celebrated at international events as a peacemaker. He wanted Oslo to pay attention to him.