Blinded by the process

Editorial reactions to the Kashmir massacre

Pakistan’s Daily Times is neither given to ‘demonisation’ of India nor to the peddling of conspiracy theories while explaining terrorism. It should be surprising to its readers, not to mention extremely disappointing, to see it cite the controversy arising from the Indian army’s response to a previous massacre to draw some repugnant conclusions.

The latest incident could either be the “revenge” of the jihadis or an Indian intelligence agency’s tactic to get Pakistan into more trouble with the rest of the world and blunt its drive to pressure India into sorting out the bilateral equation. Don’t let the peace-talks be derailed! [DT]

With regard to the Chittisinghpora massacre, where several Sikh villagers were systematically gunned down by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists on the eve of President Clinton’s visit to India, the only controversy was the revelation that the Indian army killed five presumably innocent young men to prove that they had apprehended the culprits. Without doubt, the army must be held to incomparably higher standards. Yet a despicable act by some of its personnel cannot be used as a pretense to either ignore the reality of jihadi terrorism or perversely, to suggest that Indian intelligence agencies would stage such a bloody event just to give Pakistan the bad name that it already has.

On this count, the Daily Times’ opinion has become indistinguishable from that of the jihadis and fundamentalists that it ostensibly is against. And then we have the Hindu. After publishing yet another craven editorial yesterday, admonishing the Indian government for getting too close to the Hamid Karzai government (because the latter is close to the United States), it finds the occasion of a cold-blooded massacre of Indian citizens opportune for sorting the dead by their religions.

Terrorism in J&K is too often projected as a war by Islamists against Hindus, a depiction amplified by media reports that, for the most part, ignore the large-scale killing of Muslims who were either perceived as enemies by the armies of the jihad, or simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In fact, as data published yesterday by the Hindu make clear, J&K’s Muslim civilians have been the principal victims of the jihad Islamist groups are waging in their name. In no year, since the jihad began in 1988, have Hindus been more than 20 per cent of civilians killed, a figure considerably lower than their share of the State’s population. [Hindu]

If the Hindu seeks to argue that more Muslims have died at the hands of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists than it cannot be wrong whether in Jammu & Kashmir, in Pakistan, Iraq or elsewhere. But it is no use to obfuscate the fact that the jihadis are carrying out these acts in the name of religion. In this week’s massacre, it has emerged that jihadis carefully sorted out the villagers by religion before shooting them dead. It should come as little relief to their surviving relatives that well, accordinging to statistics, far fewer of them have been killed than the law of averages would suggest.

And finally, there is the Indian Express, sitting on the fence while advising the Indian government to get off it.

It could be argued that the latest brutality in J&K breaches India’s threshold of tolerance to terrorism and demands an end to the peace process. But if the reported assessment of the government is that the latest round of violence is the desperate work of those seeking to derail the peace process, there is every reason for the government to stay the course.

If the UPA government believes the peace process has begun to isolate the extremists, then it should step on the accelerator by unveiling a range of political measures to improve the human conditions in the state. Equally important would be setting an early date for the visit of Manmohan Singh to Pakistan.

…the government must act purposefully to reinforce the peace process and at the same time go after the Lashkar and other terrorist outfits. [IE]

After suggesting that it is possible that the massacre may have crossed over the threshold of tolerance to terrorism, the Express fails to provide any directions should the Indian government decide so. Instead it calls for reinforcing the peace process and simultaneously going after the terrorist outfits. That’s having it both ways. Gen Musharraf and his co-travellers from the Hurriyat have demanded demilitarisation as the next big pound of flesh they want to keep the peace process going. Pulling troops out of Jammu & Kashmir will not only make it difficult to ‘go after’ the terrorists, but clear the way for more massacres. There’s nothing sacrosanct about the process so as to make it a taboo to speak out against it.

8 thoughts on “Blinded by the process”

  1. very well said Nitin!!…The peace process isnt a taboo that shouldnt be spoken against- infact it had come to such a state as to being an albatross around the Indian Government neck. I had been hearing this being parroted time and again- that India should not let the peace process derail- what is there for the Indian government to do- but to go after the terrorists?

    And to speak of the Indian media- it is a sad state of affairs that The Hindu had to speak about the law of averages- does it mean to say that, if the number of people killed is lesser than the proportion of their population, then killing them is ok?…Will it hold the same argument in other cases too?? What will it say if there is some communal violence in some Hindu dominated states and minorities are killed on a statistical manner- lesser than the proportion of their population. It is indeed sickening to read such comments from The Hindu.

  2. Nitin,

    Why speak of Media, blogs are not far behind !

    Sepia Mutiny had a similar post (I found it rather inappropriate and in poor taste). Later on, the comments were closed (I wonder why!)

  3. I am in my last quarter of college and it so happens my very last class is a International Studies one dealing with South Asia. So, just after the news broke of the massacre the discussion in class turned into the probability of the massacre being staged and then its comparison to riots in Gujarat in 2003, where the state helped in the massacre of muslims. Then this current event was deemed to be lesser of the two evils, since the people doing the killing in this are expected to preform such horiffic acts as compared to the state.

    Such arguments are ofcourse ridiculous to most Indians i presume, since both events are equally wrong. But, this what is taught to an “informed” American. This goes in tandem with the riots being deemed as genocide here on American campuses. Therefore, its really no surprise that sites such as ‘Sepia Mutiny’ would suggest something similar. We are not as favorably looked upon as we might believe.

  4. Jatin,

    Yeah but considering that I have Indian genes (although it is a South Asian Blog ), they will be more circumspect.

    Regards

  5. It looks like moral equivalency has become a disease in the media and schools especially with regards to terrorism. Greater the terrorism, greater the moral equivalency – apparently that’s all one needs to do to be considered an open minded liberal.

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