India to try 'new strategy' to pacify Kashmir

The army, police and paramilitary forces say they have formulated a "joint strategy" to restore peace in Kashmir.

Afp September 16, 2010

SRINAGAR: Indian security forces said they have drawn up a new plan to tackle deadly unrest in Kashmir amid criticism of the government on Thursday over its handling of the crisis.

The army, police and paramilitary forces said on Wednesday they had formulated a "joint strategy" to restore peace in the disputed Himalayan region where scores of anti-India protesters have been shot dead.

"The meeting discussed the measures to effectively counter the protest calendar," a statement by the military said, referring to a list of demonstrations set by separatists in the region.

No details were given about the strategy, which is to be implemented immediately.

The death toll from three months of unrest rose to 94 on Thursday after the cousin of top separatist Yasin Malik, who was injured in a clash last month, died in the hospital, Malik's spokesman told AFP.

In New Delhi, the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh faced criticism from some commentators after a five-hour crisis meeting between political leaders held in the capital on Wednesday. The meeting broke up with a decision to send a fact-finding mission to the Muslim-majority area, which is jointly administered by India and Pakistan and an enduring source of tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

"Wars are won and insurrection defeated by leaders, not committees," wrote commentator Manoj Joshi in the Mail Today newspaper. "The Manmohan Singh government seems bent on defying this logic."

Samar Halarnkar, writing in the Hindustan Times, said "the all-party meeting in Delhi has utterly failed to address the (Kashmir) valley's realities."

He warned of the danger of a new surge in violence in Kashmir, where the insurgency is at its lowest level in two decades, unless the grievances of local people are addressed.

The Express newspaper was more supportive of the government, saying that "no one would have expected the all-party meeting to end with a concrete consensus on how to move forward."

It said the fact-finding mission was "welcome" and an indication that the nation's political energy was directed "towards dealing with one of India's most intractable problems."

All major towns in Kashmir remained under curfew on Thursday for the fifth day. There was no report of any violence during the night from any part of the region, police said.

For three months young Kashmiris have thrown stones at security forces and rallied against Indian rule in the region. Since the weekend, arson and mob attacks have risen, apparently fuelled by reports about the desecration of the Quran by a small group of Christians in Washington on Saturday.


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