Have we lost ground intelligence or enemy has become sharper? asks Altaf Bukhari on civilian killings

By PTI

SRINAGAR: With Kashmir witnessing a spate of civilian killings by militants, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) chief Altaf Bukhari on Thursday said there is a need to ponder whether the ground and human intelligence has failed or the enemy has become sharper and more organised.

Bukhari, a businessman-turned-politician who has been spearheading political activities in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of its special status by the Centre, warned that any further “delay in revival of grassroots democracy will only lead us to mayhem, which we have started witnessing.”

The strong statement from Bukhari came after the killing of three civilians, including prominent chemist Makhan Lal Bindroo, on Tuesday, with The Resistance Front, believed to be a shadow of the banned Lashker-e-Taiba terror group, claiming responsibility for the attack.

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“My head hangs in shame. I do not know how to face the family of Bindroo. I do not how to face the vendor (Virender Paswan) or the person killed in Bandipore. This is simply inhuman.”

“If you ask me, we need to ponder on this: Has our ground intelligence, human intelligence failed or is the enemy sharper and more organised than us?” Bukhari said.

His remarks came on a day militants shot dead two government school teachers in Srinagar.

The killing of the teachers took the number of civilians killed in the Kashmir Valley in the last five days to seven, including four from the valley’s minority communities.

The JKAP chief also said that the time has come for politicians to step in to revive grassroots democracy in the union territory and warned that any further “delay in revival of grassroots democracy will only lead us to mayhem, which we have started witnessing.”

He said it was a time of grief for everyone in Jammu and Kashmir but “having said so, we have to see how to come out of this situation. I see a lack of communication between a common man and the administration”.

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“I think that is our first priority that the channel of communication with common people should be restored, maybe through police or civil administration — all have to keep their eyes and ears open and listen to common man.”

To a question about the party’s assessment of the situation since it was formed in March 2020, Bukhari said, “If you ask me how do I feel…..It has been three years since the central rule was imposed, what we had thought or what we had anticipated in terms of development or in terms of corruption being under control or common man being heard, I am sorry to point out that on all these parameters on a scale of 1 to 10, the results are not more than 2. So naturally we are not satisfied to the level what our expectation was.”

He, however, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah would be reviewing everything and “I am sure we will see light at the end of the tunnel.”

While bailing out Lt Governor Manoj Sinha who, he said, is a seasoned politician and is tirelessly working to uplift Jammu and Kashmir, Bukhari noted he would like “to point out that probably people at the helm of affairs in the administration are not aware of intricacies of Jammu and Kashmir”.

“Had Jammu and Kashmir been any other state of the country, probably their experience and administrative acumen would have been sufficient to change things on the ground. Unfortunately, Jammu and Kashmir has its own historical, geographical and political identity which only people who have had insight into the minds and psyche of the people can handle better.”

He said tough times are ahead but he has been advising his leaders and workers to take more responsibility and become a link between communities, regions and sects who reside here.

“The enemy within us will have to be exposed and contained irrespective who he or she is. If there are black sheep within us, they will have to be exposed or within the administration or the security forces, they need to be weeded out so that common man reposes faith in the system of this country.”

“I will be honest my workers feel suffocated, my leaders feel suffocated because they are not allowed free movement…..but if political workers are not allowed to work for people, the whole gamut of democracy looks a farce,” he said, adding that “it seems there are forces inimical to peace within the administration also who are becoming roadblocks in free flow of communications between a common man and our workers.”

Bukhari said the killing of Bindroo was a setback to efforts to convince Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes and start life with all.

“I pose a serious question to myself, how can I convince a Kashmiri Pandit, living in Jagti (migrants camp) to come back to Srinagar when we could not save Mr Bindroo, who did more human service then anyone of us living in Srinagar,” Bukhari said.