The tough posture is evident from the decision to despatch to J&K PAVA shells, the chilli-based substitute for pellet guns, in bulk, at the rate of 1,000 each day, until things clam down.
It is also reflected in the move not to pull out the paramilitary troopers who were deployed in the state for Amarnath Yatra and not to dilute AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act).
There is expectation that firmness will help tire the protesters out, with possibly even some secessionists like Abdul Ghani Bhat showing reasonableness.
This also rules out the possibility of any effort in the immediate future to engage with Hurriyat Conference despite the insistence of a few opposition parties that for any outreach to succeed, it must cover the secessionist amalgam.
The decision not to reach out to the secessionists has been influenced by a number of factors. The government's assessment is that Hurriyat leaders stand completely marginalized in the current tumult which has been fuelled by the ambition to usher in an Islamic theocracy. “They are at a crossroads, having lost control over the forces they unleashed,“ said a government source, adding that the fear of being punished by the fundamentalists behind the current bout of protests was why Hurriyat leaders spurned the opposition leaders who were keen to meet them. “They are not among the stakeholders we would like to engage at this juncture.“
In fact, the government seems to feel that with Eid approaching, it should make all possible effort to ease the hardships of people but offering fresh concessions would achieve little at this stage. Sources said unlike in the past where protests were political in nature and focussed on the demand of autonomy , the current un rest was largely religious.Those driving the protests were aiming to establish an Islamic settlement and had no appetite for themes of autonomy .
“There were limits to what we could do to expand autonomy . For instance, while it is alright to talk about restoration of the pre-1953 status, the fact of the matter is that it is not possible to reverse the decision taken under the Nehru government to extend the jurisdiction of SC and EC to J&K. But these are of little interest to protesters have set their sights on establishment of theocracy ,“ said sources.
“We are not here to negotiate the integrity of India,“ they said, underlining the difficulty in having a political solution and admitting that the government could be in for a long haul.