New genre of militants needs to be tackled not militarily, but meaningful engagement of youth to ameliorate their anger which emerged post-2010 repression
Two militant strikes on two consecutive days last week in South Kashmir, the first on a BSF convoy and the second on patrolling cops, are a reflection of the deepening crisis in the Valley. The attacks are highly condemnable and extremely tragic, leaving 5 dead and 6 injured. Earlier, in a shocking attack in Srinagar a fortnight ago, 3 cops were killed. Two days later, militants launched two attacks leaving two people including a cop dead at two different places in Kupwara and Pulwama districts. Strategic concerns demand that these incidents not only need to be probed individually but need to be clubbed together and juxtaposed with the fresh trends in militancy, particularly in the last two years.
Since 2012, the militants, after having been reduced to a mere strength of hundred, have been steadily increasing their footprints, particularly in South Kashmir. The statistics and number of strikes alone are not significant. The changing trend of militancy and the manner in which the fresh breed of militants operate requires to be given some weight-age and must be factored into the strategic discourse. The finer points of Saturday’s attack in Anantnag, which left two cops dead, are quite illustrative. Two militants reportedly struck the busy area of Anantnag Bus Stand, attacked the cops on patrol and killed two of them after firing indiscriminately. An unverified video footage shows two of the militants, one of whom was later identified by the police, walking away calmly after pumping the bullets without any signs of nervousness. Such images are enough to manifest the nature of militancy which is far more lethal and brutal in nature than it was in the 1990s. The militants are sure of their targets and are attacking with precision and decisive involvement. That police are excessively becoming easy targets for militants cannot as yet be said conclusively as in the last two decades, there have been several occasions when cops have been killed randomly. But if this is the case, it is a cause for anxiety. However, panic at this juncture would be uncalled for. The situation is not yet quite beyond damage control.
However, to counter such kind of lethal attacks requires not just a military strategy but also a non-military solution for plugging the source of inspiration of militancy. The Pakistan angle is only a small fraction of the problem. Since 2010, internal conditions created by ruthless ways of the security agencies, human rights abuse and repression of people particularly the youth are conducive for pushing youth towards the gun. The unaddressed anger, which is deeply political and not economic, and which exacerbated post 2010, needs to be treated first of all, if the government is sincere in rooting out this fresh and still in infancy genre of militancy. All other questions are mere appendages of this basic problem. There is need to understand that the issue at hand is a creation of indigenous reasons.
Whether it is the handiwork of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, which claimed responsibility or Lashkar-e-Toiba, as averred by a section of the police, the involvement of local youth, and some signs of public support to these local militants, does not permit the foolishness of blaming only the forces from beyond the borders. Once the fountain-head of militancy is recognized, the only way to move ahead is to supplement military strategy, whose role is limited, with a consistent and sure-footed policy of meaningfully engaging with the youth to ameliorate the anger. A good beginning to this end can be made by allowing and encouraging open and free space to the youth to express themselves, whatever their concerns – social, political or economic. Otherwise, there is a potential danger that militancy may see a surge, whatever counter-insurgency trick may be applied to tackle it.
News Updated at : Monday, June 6, 2016