EVEN as the world is moving away from dumb munitions and adopting precision-guided ones, shelling and firing across the international border in Jammu and Kashmir is taking innocent lives. It is also vitiating the atmosphere where let alone peace; even the hope for peace becomes a distant mirage. Civilian lives are too high a collateral damage of such firing. Four civilians and a BSF jawan were killed and 10 others injured on Friday in shelling by Pakistani troops in the RS Pura, Arnia and Bishnah sectors.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is quite right in expressing outrage at the latest escalation in firing that comes in the wake of the initiation of peace initiatives with the cessation of operations during Ramzan by the government. The Pakistani army has again shown that it is not interested in peace in the Valley. Attempts at intrusions into the Indian territory continue, with the active involvement of the armed forces of the neighbouring country. The Chief Minister is right when she asserts that violence is a “zero-sum game”. The use of weapons of war during times of peace is unconscionable, more so when death literally rains from the sky, choosing victims at random. Indeed, one of those killed on Friday was a woman. Even as the Indian forces counter the threat and take more effective measures to evacuate civilians injured during any such conflict, the ball is in the court of Islamabad to reciprocate the goodwill gesture of cease-fire.
A section of the world may well have become desensitised to incidents of deaths of civilians; however, there is simply no room for violence. The reverberations of the mortar shells that tear into the life of local residents also seem to blow up hope for peace in the Valley. Even in a land scarred by many such incidents, the timing of the latest bout of firing shows how fragile peace in Jammu and Kashmir is.