The terrorist attack on the Amarnath yatris near Anantnag has made the position of the Jammu and Kashmir government extremely vulnerable. It is unlikely that the coalition arrangement between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP would continue for too long, and prominent leaders including Dr Karan Singh, the erstwhile maharaja of the strife-ridden state, have already made a push for the imposition of President’s Rule. Within the Sangh Parivar, there is an all round despondency and thus pressure is mounting on the BJP to quit the government before things hurtle to further ruin.
Beyond any doubt, the attack on the home-bound devotees after paying obeisance and veneration at the holy shrine, has demonstrated that there was an unpardonable security lapse on part of the state machinery. As on expected lines, intelligence agencies are trying to wash their hands of the tragedy by stating that they had alerted the government regarding the possibility of an assault on pilgrims by terrorists, yet sufficient follow-up measures were obviously not taken.
However, intelligence information in such matters, unless it is precise and to the point, is of a general genre and is communicated very often to absolve the agencies of any failing in the eventuality of a strike by militants. Hopefully, this time around this is not the case, a matter which would be established once the entire inquiry and investigations get completed.
What is baffling is that even before the probe into the killings started, some officials reached the definitive inference that a certain commander of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba was responsible for the dastardly attack. In normal course, the police organisations identify the criminal after obtaining some leads pertaining to his specific involvement, to decisively point out towards the complicity and implication of those responsible for the horrific act. None of the terror outfits, which are always hungry for publicity, have claimed responsibility, but the official view has already been formulated.
There is little doubt that Pakistani sponsored groups have been operating in various parts of the state, particularly the Valley and have in the past struck at several places, taking our security forces by complete surprise. Here, it is significant to note that in most instances when attacks have been planned, our valiant solders have either made pre-emptive strikes or have successfully repulsed them. Therefore, it is paramount to identify the group behind the Anantnag massacre in order to reach out and neutralise this particular terror module. If not so, knowing how diabolic minds work in the Valley, in due course a canard would be spread, insinuating that the incident was the handiwork of the Indian state. Such misinformation has gained currency in the past and to ensure that no such thing now happens, the government must either convincingly apprehend or eliminate the terrorists.
Kashmir, for as long as one can recall, has been a hotbed of intrigue and double-dealing. Deplorably, Pakistan and its agents have to a great degree complicated matters, so much so, that many times it becomes difficult to distinguish between falsities and the truth. Islamabad’s designs are as sinister as its actions. Lamentably, there are many who seem to have been swayed by the propaganda and are persistently employing the political idiom, which is contrary to what the Indian state has stood for. Such people need to be brought back into the mainstream by actions on the ground, rather than allowing things to escalate into further deterioration.
The state government is being administered by two parties that are unconditionally incompatible with each other, and thus could shortly head for an ugly divorce. The BJP has forever gloated over its nationalist credentials, and Kashmir is of foremost historic significance, as the party has been insisting on the abrogation of Article 370 ever since the inception of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and the “martyrdom” of its founder, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. The PDP was founded with the support of separatists, the majority of whom are now openly championing the cause of Pakistan. In New Delhi, it is a mystery and puzzle for many regarding how in the first place this unholy alliance was forged, even if the mandate was heavily in favour of the BJP in the Jammu region and towards the PDP in Kashmir. Two contradicting and conflicting agendas can never deliver towards the welfare of the state and thereby prove its allegiance to the Indian nation.
The ground situation has been singularly unnerving. Intelligence agencies continue to harp on the growing presence of the ISIS in the Valley, which is more alarmist in nature than in actuality. Pakistani flags are hoisted when there are demonstrations or when bodies of terrorists or militants have to be buried. The black ISIS flags are rarely visible. The government as well as the political class will have to contribute in finding a political solution to the problem, which has been like a festering wound for the Indian state.
If extreme steps need to be taken, the Centre must not shun away from doing so. There is a twin challenge before us. On the one hand, Kashmiris have to comprehend that there is no way they can exclude themselves from being an integral part of India. On the other, Pakistanis have to be rapped hard on the knuckles to apprise them that interference in our internal affairs would no longer be tolerated. Between us.