Jyoti Thottam / Showkat Motta

From Time: “Kashmir Chief becomes target…

“The Kashmiri capital has been dominated by news of stone-throwing protests this summer, but on India’s Independence Day, Aug. 15, it was a shoe, not a stone, that grabbed the headlines. During the morning’s flag-raising ceremony, a police sub-inspector threw his shoe at Omar Abdullah, the state’s embattled chief minister, while Abdullah stood at attention before the Indian tricolor.”

In an interview with TIME a few hours after the incident, Abdullah brushed it aside. “It was a shoe,” he said. “If it had hit me, it probably would have caused a bruise, but that’s about it.”

The brown leather brogue was only the latest indignity for a man with one of the world’s most thankless jobs: as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah must try both to sell the Indian government’s policies to Kashmiris, many of whom would like to be rid of India, and to uphold the interests of Kashmiris in the Indian government.”

“…the dream of azadi, or freedom, has never quite died, and Kashmiris’ unresolved issues against India have taken a new form: a mass protest movement against the Indian military presence, symbolized by young “stone pelters.”

“…as a state official, Abdullah does not have ultimate control over the central government’s security forces, and Kashmiris complain that he seems powerless to control the forces, let alone address protesters’ demands for a withdrawal of troops, the removal of bunkers and the repeal of draconian security measures that have oppressed day-to-day life in Kashmir for years. “He will not dare to take any step,” says Rashid, a regular among the stone-pelting protesters. “He cannot.”

Even if he does step down, at this point it may have no impact on Kashmiri anger, which is much bigger than just one man. “New Delhi and the media are very keen to put Omar Abdullah on trial,” says Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leader of a moderate separatist faction. “People know that our problem is not Omar Abdullah; our problem is New Delhi.”

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