LoC bloodbath

The bloodbath along 778 km Line of Control (LoC) and 198 km International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir has become a regular feature now. Ever since India claimed carrying out surgical strikes on militant camps in September 2016, the LoC has remained on boil. With unabated violence resulting in killing of soldiers on either side, it raises a question on the merits of the hard posturing adopted by New Delhi and Islamabad. Apparently, the army has been endorsing the hard-posturing; Army Chief Bipin Rawat has supported New Delhi in the vivid display of military might. The hard-line policy has not paid dividends as people of India were made to believe.

India and Pakistan accuse each other of violating the ceasefire agreement, but the matter of the fact is the brunt of confrontation between the two countries is borne by the people living on both side of LoC and IB. The civilian population on both sides witness loss of life and damage to properties on daily basis and have at times to shift to other places in order to save their lives.

Couple of days back, an Indian Army captain and three soldiers was killed in Pak army firing and before this Indian army had killed Pak army soldiers. In the perpetual cycle of killing each others’ soldiers in which the two armies are engaged in, people living near the LoC or working near it, have to live in agony and constant fear. The saddest part is that there is little hope of situation improving in coming days. The picture emanating from the New Delhi and Islamabad does not seem to be leading the two nations towards better relations or towards resolution of their conflicts, particularly in Kashmir case.

After BJP-led government assumed power at New Delhi in 2014, its top leaders, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh issued statements on resolving the dispute. Rajnath declared that “Kashmir issue was going to be resolved in few months time”. Former Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar earlier used to issue tough statements against Pakistan. In late September 2016 the government claimed that army carried out surgical strikes to put an end to cross-border firing and militant activities from Pakistan side. Nothing of that sort (end of violence) has happened on ground. Instead there is surge in cross LoC firing and number of militant attacks has increased in the Kashmir valley. And on top it, the Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat has been issuing statements that suggest deviation from the views held by earlier army chiefs. Gen Bipin Rawat has even gone to the extent of talking about a two and a half front war, implying to take on China, Pakistan and militants in Kashmir simultaneously. The army chief suggested a change in school curriculum in J and K, saying “In schools in Jammu and Kashmir, what teachers are teaching should not be taught.” The situation instead of improving has taken a turn for worse on ground, on both China and Pak front for India.

The Doklam issue which saw India and China come eyeball to eyeball for almost three months is back in news. There are reports after India claimed the troops from the both the countries withdrew from the area that China has consolidated its position in the area. The status-quo on many issues with Pakistan has remained unchanged including the hostilities on the LoC and IB. There seems to be no headway on any of the statements made by New Delhi.

On the other hand, there has been no letup in civilian killings in Kashmir. Last week Shopian witnessed three deaths in army firing. Government has cracked down on Hurriyat leaders and their political activities have been curbed to large extent. The operations against militancy have been braced up and despite that there has been no letup in militant attacks in Kashmir valley. The ground situation in Kashmir is for all to see. It baffles all that despite such harsh maneuvers and more importantly the confrontation with civilian population in Kashmir valley not working in its favor, New Delhi was continuing with such measures.

It does not take a genius to gauge the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and on LoC. People understand retired generals cannot resolve Kashmir issue by debating in television studios. There is in fact no military solution to the Kashmir conflict. If there was one, the three years’ of BJP rule in India should have been enough for it to settle things on ground in its favor. Any possible solution can only come from diplomatic détente and dialogue process. Till this fact dawns on the political and military leadership of concerned parties, unfortunately, the clashes will continue and people of J and K will continue to pay the heavy price with their lives on LoC on both sides of the divide and in Kashmir valley.

akmalhanan07@gmail.com

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