When the system was busy digging the past, terror was rising in Kashmir. Kashmiri pandits once again is the target. They say that the situation is worse than 1990s, the time when exodus was at its peak. The government is trying to persuade Kashmiri pandits to stay; going as far as blocking their path. Security forces are alert in the region. Pakistan-backed terrorists are gunned down. Targeted killings are still happening. What is the reason? Who are these terrorists? Will another wide scale exodus take place?
In the last month, civilians have been the target in Kashmir. Coward terrorists cannot face the Armed forces. That is why artist, school teacher, banker, off-duty policemen are targeted. Both Hindu and Muslim are killed, but the overall trend is, that Pakistani-backed terrorists are looking for soft target.
In The Kashmir Files movie, it was shown under what circumstances Kashmiri pandits had to vacate their homes in the 90s. The then ruling party and governor could not ensure safety from Pak-backed militants. What was not shown in that movie is the worsening situation of Kashmiri pandits today – under what condition they are living or rather surviving. All they receive is nothing but assurance from the government. How the politicians and filmmakers garnered votes and notes in the name of Kashmiri Pandits are too not shown in the movie. Kashmiri Pandits still await justice. Today, if Kashmir Files-2 is made, it might not be commercially successful because it will show the truth of unfulfilled promises of resettlement.
After article 370 was revoked, no new investor is entering the region. Nor there is peace. No doubt that the intention of revoking article 370 was good, but just like demonetisation, GST, lockdown, its poor implementation gave Pakistan another scope of terror, or an entry point to spread terror.
Rajni Bala, a school teacher, was shot at a close range. TV actor Amreen Bhat was killed by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) categorised and hybrid terrorist. The terrorist was recruited 10-15 days earlier. Ranjit Singh, wine shop employee succumbed to grenade attack by hybrid terrorist.
A Categorised terrorist has criminal record whereas Hybrid terrorist has no past criminal record – not easy to track. In all these targeted killings, two things are worrisome – these terrorists are local youths – home-grown terrorists. They have not come after training from Pakistan. They are made in India, funded by Pakistan – recruited just 10-15 days ago – to kill or be killed.
There was a time when Pakistani ISI had to try hard in spreading terror, train them locally and cross border, etc. killing thousands in the 1990s. Our forces stopped cross border terrorism by using two pronged approach – one with militants and another with locals.
For example: In 2012, our military losses were 18 members, and 19 civilian losses in a year. This relatively peaceful atmosphere could not sustain and once again the attitude of government changed. If you privately discuss with the army men here, you will find that they’re more than capable of easing tensions be it in Kashmir, Northeast or central region. But political process holds them back and gives chance to terrorists.
In 2016, Pakistan terrorists attacked Uri army camp and 20 of our soldiers were martyred. In a befitting reply, we carried out surgical strike in Pakistan. It was a morale booster for our army that we taught them a lesson in their land.
But did we later adopt this surgical strike strategy on our own people?
On 5 August 2019, article370 was abrogated overnight. And Jammu & Kashmir lost its special status and privileges and became a union territory. 5000 preventive arrests were made in J&K and people there spent their lives in lockdown much before the pandemic and that too without internet. Article 370 was already losing its grip; but sudden removal without following democratic process, with including people created atmosphere of alienation, of distrust. Pakistan, today, is taking advantage of that by attracting misguided groups towards terrorism. Terrorists are not coming from Pakistan, but now locals are recruited online. Pakistan is misusing their anger against the system. In 2020, more than 50 have joined terror outfits. J&K police stated that 12 joined in May alone, of which 4 have been killed.
This is what Kashmir’s IG of Police, Vijay Kumar told The Print, “Three out of four killings last month were carried out by hybrid militants, who were fresh recruits and had joined militancy just 10-15 days before the killings.”
J&K police are trying to tackle this emerging situation. 50 terrorists were encountered or arrested in May. Only 10 were Pakistanis among them. At one point in time, 905 terrorists were from Pakistan, and trained in the same country. Today fresh recruits are mostly from locals. But, why?
Killers of Kashmiri pandit Rahul Bhat, actor Amreen Bhat and wine shop employee Ranjit Singh have been killed or arrested as said by the Kashmir Police. Still, to what extent can we give proper security to outsiders and Kashmiri Pandits when they are soft targets? In this year, almost 27 civilians have been killed including residents, village heads, labourers, etc. Terror groups are aware that they don’t have any security. LeT fronts like resistance front, Kashmir freedom fighters have taken responsibility of killings.
Moreover, Pakistan cannot be directly linked to these terror attacks otherwise Financial Action Task Force (FATF) would blacklist Pakistan, stopping international funding. Pakistan, anyway, is in the claw of economic emergency. To stay as far as possible, the new recruits are provided online training in handling of weapons, explosives etc. They are spreading terror from home. No more AK-47, they are using Pistol.
How to deal with these local home-grown terrorists? What is the solution?
3-year lockdown, security forces and internet shutdown halted activities and lessened terror incidents. But, for how long Kashmir valley be closed. As soon as its opened, the terror incidents are taking place. Frustrated youths are exploited. 15-20 years ago Army dealt with this by dual strategy – one approach with militants and another with local. Army is doing their job as before. But there is no political engagement with locals. Have our politicians failed or succeeded in bringing normalcy?
- To attain normalcy, statehood of J&K should be reinstated at least.
- Focus should be on development. How much has the union territory developed since?
- Finally, the discrimination Kashmiris face here is taken back to the valley. It fuels the cycle of hate which must be stopped.
- These can happen only when we accept that abrogation of article 370 did not solve problems.
Government is trying to show that all is well, as outsiders and tourists are visiting the place. But experts and Kashmiri pandits will not agree. But, where is the recognition of the problem? Until that, solution cannot be found. But we, as alert citizens, can be more aware of the situation and raise questions.
07-06-2022 [ Headline Image: www.aa.com.tr]
Mahabahu.com is an Online Magazine with collection of premium Assamese and English articles and posts with cultural base and modern thinking.