Home ministry officials have said that the intelligence apparatus based in Kashmir failed to gauge the mood of the people and did not present the true picture to the Centre regarding how deeply the separatists had penetrated into the valley as a result of which they were successfully able to stop the locals from coming out and vote. Less than 7% polling took place in the Srinagar Lok Sabha bypolls—the lowest in 30 years.
Officials said that a large number of officials from both the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) are present in the valley ever since terrorism began and apart from collecting intelligence related to terror groups and their supporters, they are also required to gauge the mood of the public and share it with the centre on a regular basis.
“Officers of the level of Joint Director (belonging both to IB and R&AW) are stationed in Srinagar full time. What were they doing? If they had sent a correct report, detailing the fact that the security forces have lost the grounds to the separatists, the Centre could have postponed the polls till the situation had become more conducive for elections. They did not inform the Centre that the PDP has lost all its good will and the reach of the separatist leaders had entered every nook and corner,” a senior Home ministry official said.
As per the report generated by the intelligence agencies, most of the commanders that were leading the stone pelters, were being lodged in jails in the valley. This allowed them to give orders and directions to the stone pelters despite being in jail.
“Who are these ‘young’ men? Will the security forces in New Delhi stay and watch silently if they were throwing stones on them? A false narrative has been created that these stone pelters are innocent. Don’t forget they are injuring our soldiers in scores and the ISI is deliberately not giving them weapons, which it easily can. It is a well thought out strategy. Tough action needs to be taken against them and they need to arrested and moved to prisons in Jammu as prisons in Kashmir, when it comes to these locals, becomes compromised for obvious reason. The fear of law has vanished and that is what needs to be brought back. The security forces need to be given a free hand, so that they can work within the law and yet hit back when confronted by these stone pelters,” the official added.
According to officials, such was the situation in Kashmir now that the PDP MLAs cannot go into the interiors even with police protection.
“Now the pressure of the terrorists and the separatist has become more when you compare it to the sense of security that is provided by the security forces. In previous elections, we had made sure that right from the way he steps out of his home and all the way to the polling booth and back, the voters was under the protection of the security forces. The separatists have penetrated each mohalla now. For the ordinary Kashmiri, he has to go with the wind and perception. If he feels that the writ of the separatist is weakening, he will not follow them. As per the reports coming from the valley now, that sense of security was not there this time, for whatsoever reason. It was a massive failure on the part of the state police and the state government,” the official added.
According to former BSF ADG Pravash Mishra, who was posted in the valley for more than 15 years, the only way to weaken the separatists in the valley was to wean away the youngsters who are used by the separatists as expendable foot soldiers.
“We need to do maximum recruitments for the Army and para-military forces from the most disturbed areas, recruit at least 1,000 youths from the disturbed areas, if needed, decrease the minimum educational qualification just like it was done in the case of Assam rifles in the North east, where it was decreased to class 8th from class 12th. We need to take the youths away from these separatists and the only way to do that is to give them job and respect that comes with it,” he said.