2018 turned out to be the deadliest year of the last decade in Kashmir, where violence and uncertainly overshadowed everything. Apart from unleashing major military offensive, it saw politics taking different twists and turns in the region. In this piece, a Srinagar-based independent journalist presents the major trending frames of the year.
The year set off with routine violence. Some houses as usual rose up in flames, while civilians continued to run towards the gunfight sites to rescue their armed brethren. Some fell defying the oft-repeated advisories, while others died inside their yards, neighbourhoods and streets.
As violence rose, New Delhi further flexed military muscle in its “integral part”.
The little space for dialogue squeezed further, while a new narrative was floated, confusing the historicity of the Kashmir dispute. The brutal rape and murder case involving an 8-year-old nomad Muslim girl at Kathua exposed the communal designs, and ended up sacking and shaming ministers in Mehbooba Mufti’s cabinet.
But mainly, it was the martial approach, lately termed as ‘state doctrine’ by BJP’s Yashwant Sinha, which remained at play: “Use brute force to quell the dissent.”
As the year progressed, a wave of uncertainty, amid the judicial assault on JK’s special status, gripped the valley. The militant leadership took the major drubbing, while NIA crackdown continued on Kashmir’s resistance camp.
By summer, the well-known editor’s broad day light assassination fanned tensions and unsettled his tribe. BJP soon called a presser and decided to desert the unholy alliance.
As governor’s rule came into vogue, the old man in the office, who had walked in Raj Bhavan during the peak 2008 Amarnath land row, played his own self — the crisis manager. Once he failed to take dictations from Delhi, NN Vohra had to make way for BJP’s own governor—the Indian premier Narendra Modi’s pick—drafted from Bihar.
As Satya Pal Malik’s tumultuous tenure began, the violence refused to ebb. Such was his posturing—from day one—that despite civilian killings, he played Nero.
He was soon fiddling with state laws at the behest of his SAC — majorly represented by the former ‘celebrated’ Indian officials. In wake of the grand alliance, his eleventh-hour decision to dissolve the assembly, on which he was sitting for months, only made him Delhi’s suitable JK manager.
Even as he ended up harrying BJP’s ally Sajad Lone in the process, Malik managed to steer clear of the controversy. By facilitating the twin polls on expected lines in the state. He did it for Delhi, where others had faltered and fumbled.
Amid these shrilling political affairs, Kashmir continued to witness the vitriolic violence. By the year end, at least 565 killings, including 265 insurgents, 152 civilians and 148 Indian forces personnel, made 2018 the bloodiest year of the last decade.
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