C Uday Bhaskar: If the army returns, the Kashmiri tinderbox could ignite

There's a need for quick, credible and legitimate political intervention
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The Independent Online

Kashmir is a Sisyphean undertaking: it gets better and then it slides back. What we've witnessed over the last few days is one of those troughs.

The mood on the ground is angry and it is something that should be contained as soon as possible since, from the Indian perspective, it has the potential to spin out of control.

It is very volatile on the ground but, this time, it's the police on the receiving end. In the past, it was the paramilitaries or the army who came under intense scrutiny.

The Indian army doesn't want to be in Kashmir and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been committed to reducing its presence there. However, after yesterday's incident, the police will say they cannot manage and need the presence of the paramilitaries or the army. If the army is employed to contain cross-border interference, it would be like going back to the 1990s when militant groups came into Kashmir from outside.

We need quick and effective political action. It's disappointing that the major parties are not on the same page and this intervention has not happened yet. This could benefit those who are trying to push the envelope and get into the cycle of violence that we have seen before.

Stone pelting has become a serious issue. There are extended periods of planned urban violence and stone throwing has become a mainly orchestrated event. Some separatist leaders have also been making provocative statements. These are the kind of avoidable situations that we are now faced with and, with the shrill 24/7 television channels in India, every incident gets blown up.

After the upheaval of the Mumbai attacks in 2008, it became relatively stable in Kashmir in 2009. But over the last few months there seems to have been more attempts at infiltration. And the situation is very troubled in Pakistan.

As always, whether its Kyrgyzstan or Kashmir, there's a need for quick, credible and legitimate political intervention so that people are able to have some faith that their leaders will act in an equitable and adequate way.

Delhi should remain engaged with both Srinagar – and Islamabad – and quarantine the groups and constituencies that support violence and terror.

C Uday Bhaskar is an Indian defence analyst and former director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses