In an unusually harsh editorial, The New York Times has described India’s security crackdown in Kashmir as “brutal” and cautioned that it will feed more militancy. The editorial which was published on Saturday said the Indian government must ensure that human rights are protected in Kashmir.
The New York Times’ editorial board’s comments came days after a video showing a civilian tied to a military vehicle as a ‘human shield’ in Kashmir went viral.
The editorial commented that members of India’s armed forces “reached a new low in the long history of alleged human rights abuses” in Kashmir when they beat and tied 24-year-old shawl weaver Farooq Ahmad Dar to the front of a jeep using him as a human shield against stone-throwing crowds.
“The incident, which came to light when a video spread on social media, provides a gauge of an insurgency that has waxed and waned over nearly three decades in Kashmir,” the editorial titled ‘Cruelty and Cowardice in Kashmir’ said.
It added that following the incident, India’s army chief General Bipin Rawat vowed action against those responsible for tying Dar to the jeep. But he also warned that Kashmir’s stone-throwing youth and separatist militants “may survive today, but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue”.
The editorial said, “such posturing will only doom Kashmir to a deadly spiral, where more brutal military tactics will feed more despair and more militancy”.
The editorial said the Narendra Modi government would do well if it follows the recommendations by a report presented to him by a group of citizens in January that cited strong feelings of discrimination and a “complete lack of faith” by Kashmiris in government promises.
The report had pleaded for improved human rights and a multi-party dialogue aimed at a durable political solution.
The editorial also warned that Indian democracy will lose its credibility if Kashmiris are robbed of a chance to dream, along with the rest of India, of a peaceful, prosperous future if the recommendations of the report are not implemented.
The group that visited the Valley twice last year on a fact-finding mission has recommended “multi-dimensional dialogue” that includes talks with Hurriyat should be “initiated at the earliest” and has asked the government to improve human rights situation and resuscitate democratic linkages between with people and allow Kashmiris to assemble and meet to hold discussions.