By Arun Joshi
On Monday terrorists struck in Kashmir in a manner that was dreaded the most , they attacked a meeting of the elected representatives of the Municipal Council of Sopore 50 Kms north of Srinagar , killing two and wounding few others This attack represented so many things all at once- the terror strike symbolic enough to inject fear at a time when Kashmir is riveted to the emerging signs of thaw between Delhi and Islamabad and waiting for the next step by the two to take the peace and dialogue process forward.
This is a more disturbing trend because the terror incidents have taken place despite an overall urge for peace in Kashmir, particularly after the reconfirmation of the November 26, 2003 ceasefire agreement on February 25 . . It is generally believed that Indo-Pak peace track means lessening of the terror activities in Kashmir because Pakistan is a major player in stirring terror troubles in the Valley.
Both internally and on the face of it , this attack combined with the few others in the past one week appear to be a desperate attempt to sabotage emerging improvement in Indo-Pak ties . Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his March 23 letter to Pakistan PM Imran Khan had wished for cordial relations between the two countries in an “ environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility”. The terror is there and therefore it can pose a problem for both Delhi and Islamabad to move ahead in the course of holding of hands of each other in the interest of peace in the region.
A pattern had been developing in the past one week in which terrorists had been targeting security forces personnel , killing and wounding them , and now they have targeted the members of the Municipal Council in the rain wet Sopore in north Kashmir on Monday . This pattern has been adopted to demonstrate that despite the ceasefire on the Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan , terrorism exists in the Valley.
The killing of a Municipal Councillor and his personal security guard , better known as Personal security officer or PSO , and wounding of others in the Municipal Council office in Sopore , where a meeting was underway on Monday morning , is also a message sow seeds of fear between them and the people.
Why Sopore? There have been attacks on the Panches, sarpanches and even the block development members in Kashmir , but those were mostly in the volatile South Kashmir and Central Kashmir, the north Kashmir had remained immune to that.
Sopore is often called London of Kashmir for its affluence . It is the hub of apple production and sale in Kashmir. Hundreds of fruit-laden trucks leave this town for fruit markets in the country . And, ironically , in 1990s , it was the hub of terrorism and it was called as “ liberated zone”, meaning thereby that the terrorists had free run over there. It also suffered huge damage , its markets were burnt down and there was a scary count of the casualties.
This is also the native area of the separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and known for its pro-Pakistan inclination .
It goes on to prove that the ceasefire and a check on the infiltration from across the LoC are not the only factors that could curb terrorism. The terrorism is also result of the radicalization that is available on social media and where the youth have turned to terror activities to serve what they call “ jihad “or holy war of Islam.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express and The Tribune.
He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com