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India sends more troops to quell Kashmir protests

India has ordered an additional 1,900 paramilitary forces to quell the Kashmir protests in a bid to boost security before addressing political problems.

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Mr. Omar also stressed that “a political package more than an economic package” was needed. In this he seems to be at odds with his seniors in New Delhi, including Sonia Gandhi, the leader of India’s ruling National Congress Party, who called for “a continued push on the development agenda.”

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The additional forces might allay some of the fatigue expressed by rank-and-file police, who talk about 17-hour shifts on “emergency” days. And police leaders in Kashmir do mention the need for a jobs program targeted at former militants and returnees from Pakistani training camps.

Yet none of the six rock-throwing youths that the Monitor recently interviewed were unemployed, and they vigorously denied that the source of youth frustration was economic. Rather, they pointed to heavy-handed police tactics and a prevailing desire for India to quit Kashmir.

Shakeel Qalander, president of the Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir, puts unemployment in the valley at about 10 percent. “It may be a factor, but largely I don’t think this is responsible for stone pelting. The political alienation is the reason for stone pelting,” he says.

The economic cost of the unrest

The unrest is taking an undeniable economic toll on residents, however. Mr. Qalander estimates the loss at 1 billion rupees ($21.6 million) a day for “all segments of enterprises and businesses we have in the valley.”

The business community is “sandwiched” between the orders of the government and the orders of the separatists, he says. “Whenever the government issues curfews, we have to abide by that. Whenever a separatist organization calls for a shutdown, we have to abide by that.”

Day laborers feel the brunt of such shutdowns. Residents have mobilized neighborhood committees, centered around the mosque but not directed by religious leaders, to distribute donations to Kashmiris suffering privation from the loss of work.