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A New exodus? - The Hindustan Times

Editorial ()
21 February 1997

Title : A New exodus?
Author : Editorial
Publication : The Hindustan Times
Date : February 21, 1997

Reports that many Muslim families had been forced to leave their
homes in the Valley in recent weeks is particularly disturbing when
a popular government had been in place. The story of the exodus
from the Valley has been one uninterrupted saga of suffering since
the militants first struck in the Valley over eight years ago. Even
so, there are important differences. In the earlier phase, the
migration was triggered following attacks on members of one
particular community with the aim of dislodging them from their
roots. The Kashmiri Pandits have not still got an assurance of safe
return to their homes. In the current phase, the victims belonged
to the State's majority community; they have been founded out of
the Valley for their political views. According to first person
accounts emanating from Jammu, where the latest migrants were
staying, the fact that they had either participated in the State
Assembly elections last October or had supported the ruling
National Conference appeared to have provoked the ire of the
militant groups. The armed groups, now appeared engaged in
attacking those who did. There is more to this than mere
vindictiveness born of political difference. It represents an
attempt to subvert the elected government by harassing or hitting
at whoever was suspected of having supported the electoral process
that brought the National Conference to power.

This, in effect, represents an open challenge to the credibility of
the State Government. Worse still, it exposes the hollowness of the
promises of security offered by Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to
the Kashmiri Pandits in order to persuade them to return to the
Valley. Chief Minister Abdullah's over-enthusiasm in tackling some
of his political adversaries, even before he got the problem of
militancy out of the way, should explain part of the difficulties
he is now facing. It was partly the failure of the State Government
to provide adequate security besides proper rehabilitation schemes
that resulted in many former militants returning to the order of
the gun. That was a tactical mistake even if the Chief Minister did
not like the modus operandi of such elements. Instilling a sense of
security among the people in the Valley now should be the top most
priority task for the State Government. Rather than quibbling over
who should head the joint security apparatus, the State Government
should welcome whatever support it can muster in its fight against
the militant groups. In fact, the credibility and effectiveness of
the State Government would depend on how well it deals with this

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