Don’t target Army in Kashmir

Don’t target Army in Kashmir

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 4 February, 2018

The extreme irresponsibility of certain High Net Worth politicians in Kashmir has been on full display in their efforts at sending those military personnel to prison for the “crime” of self-defence. Unfortunately, the Mehbooba Mufti government has made a bad situation worse by its efforts at running with the “hare” of separatists and the “hound” of the security network in the state. Not surprisingly, it has alienated both, and the result is likely to be a wipeout in the next elections. Chief Minister Mufti did a great favour to the separatist cause when she used (what is probably Centrally-provided) money to buy a video showing the gruesome manner in which a police officer was killed by separatists, when he was peacefully attending a lecture in a house of worship. Had the video been allowed to come into circulation, the entire world would have witnessed for themselves the evil nature of those who seek to detach Kashmir from the rest of India. Such protection of the image of anti-India groups has gone on for decades. During the time when Atal Behari Vajpayee was Prime Minister, an Army officer was savagely done to death by a group of separatist fighters. Had the extent of such bestiality been made known, many in Kashmir, who later on were misled into serving the separatist cause, would have desisted. In the case of ISIS, the very videos that this group of Middle Eastern neo-Nazis posted on the internet became the factor that gave several youths pause, of which many decided not to follow their worst impulses and join Abubakr al Baghdadi’s gang in their career of rapine, loot and murder. Rather than covering up the ISIS-model brutality of separatists in Kashmir by refusing to permit evidence of their cruelty to be shown on social media, the Government of India and its ally the PDP-led government in Jammu & Kashmir should repeatedly uncover and exhibit evidence of the atrocities committed by anti-India forces, including the manner in which they mistreat women and then under threat of death make the victims falsely blame the security forces for the outrage. It is unfortunate that in several parts of Kashmir, those openly anti-India are allowed to roam around freely, intimidating the overwhelming majority of Kashmiris, who have no desire for their land to be wrenched from the Union of India and be handed over to Pakistan.

Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s Kashmir policy (of trust and the gentle touch) was created by the light thrown by the candles lit at Wagah, hence the unconditional ceasefires he ordered that allowed terror groups to replenish their stores and regroup to launch fresh offences. Hence the betrayal by Pakistan after the Lahore visit of Kargil, which was caused by a lowering of the guard at some border posts. This lapse allowed the Pakistan army to infiltrate regular and irregular soldiers into the bunkers vacated by the Indian Army in the context of the “Let Us Trust Pakistan” approach taken by the Vajpayee government. Indeed, this trusting policy was carried to the extent that the army-imposed dictator of Pakistan, ex-General Pervez Musharraf (who had been sacked earlier) was welcomed cordially by the NDA government to Agra, despite having illegally overthrown the civilian Prime Minister. The Agra visit strengthened Musharraf’s position within the international community as well as internally in Pakistan, with devastating consequences for a speedy revival of democracy in that country. It is futile to expect a military establishment in Pakistan, which is bleeding the country in the guise of protecting it from India, to abandon the lucrative terror war against this country that is being remote-controlled by the ISI. Strong action should be taken against those seeking separation from India, especially those who indulge in acts of violence. 

Omar Abdullah has probably never seen a stone in his life, and hence may not know that these are lethal projectiles. Were he to get stoned by a mob out to kill him, the way the Army contingent at Shopian was, perhaps the former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir would not have been so vociferous about leaving the military to the non-existent mercies of a crazed mob set aflame by the objective of making Kashmir a Talibanised territory where chopping off of hands and stoning to death would be everyday occurrences. The action of the Mehbooba Mufti government in filing an FIR against the endangered military personnel simply for saving their own lives is a new nadir in the behaviour of politicians in Kashmir. Looking at the trajectory of violence in Kashmir, it is clear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will need to look at policy and personnel alternatives in order to change the situation, such as by sending an experienced counter-terrorism expert to Kashmir as Governor, the way Prime Minister Narasimha Rao sent General K.V. Krishna Rao was sent back to the state in 1993, and who stabilised the state significantly during the five years that he was there in his second term. 

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