The Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swift condemnation of the attack on Kashmiri traders in Lucknow is a welcome response in the time of jingoistic bravado sweeping the nation. Such interventions from the top echelons of government will have a salutary effect on the ground. However, the Centre should have displayed similar alacrity and taken firm action in the case of Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy who had called for social and economic boycott of Kashmiris in the aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist attack. It is unbecoming of a person holding gubernatorial position to make such reckless and provocative observations. Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik made remarks suggesting that mainstream political parties in the valley are the backers of terrorism which is far from truth. Any tendency to equate all Kashmiris with terrorism is highly deplorable and must be curbed at all costs. Since the Pulwama tragedy, the worst terror attack in the recent times in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed, a sense of fear and alienation have been gripping Kashmiris across India and there have been some incidents of attacks and harassment targeting students and businessmen from the border state. In the supercharged emotional atmosphere post-attack, the right wingers tried to whip up passions because the suicide bomber was a Kashmiri. In such times of crisis, the average Kashmiri should not be made to bear the cross of terror while it is the duty of every Indian citizen to fight the forces of terror and violence.
India is a mosaic of diverse ethnic groups traveling and working in any part of the country. The cause of national unity will suffer an irreparable damage if any section of Indian society is singled out for discrimination or assault on grounds of language, religion or ethnicity. The sense of oneness must be preserved and protected at all costs. Nothing will do more damage to the idea of India in the sensitive border state than the disturbing videos circulated widely in the social media showing the activists of fringe right wing groups thrashing the Kashmiri fruit vendors on the streets of Lucknow. Following incidents of attacks and harassment, the Supreme Court had stepped in last month and issued directions to at least ten states to take prompt action to ensure that Kashmiris do not face social boycott or attacks. The police officers who were earlier appointed as nodal officers to deal with incidents of mob killings will now be responsible to deal with cases of alleged assault on Kashmiris. By trying to hold Kashmiri students and businessmen accountable for the actions of terrorists, we will only achieve what Pakistan wants – to alienate the masses and make the calls for ‘aazadi’ even louder.