Silencing the Kashmiris: India moves from “softism” to “harshism” now to “dialogue”!

As a top freedom fighter to successfully fight for Indian independence under Mahatma Gandhi and soon after independence of India to invade neighboring Jammu Kashmir under a fake agreement with the then mischievous king Hari Singh and without approval of the people, India’s first PM Nehru would have known that one day Jammu Kashmir would also be soverign. JK ruler Hari Singh may have felt as a Hindu he should support the Indian demand for becoming a part of India rather than letting Pakistan a Muslim nation take over Jammu Kashmir, chose to support Indian cause.

Indian coercive Hindutva strategy worked against Kashmiris and Pakistan and it got more territory from Jammu Kashmir than Pakistan could manage.

But Kashmiris did not like the way their “beloved” king betrayed them. They were annoyed that India, as per their conspiracy hatched with their still bosses from UK, had quickly sent military into Kashmir valley to begin militarization of that paradise, and have sought to get soverign status back from Indian military.

In order to ward off suspicion among Kashmiris about Indian intentions in occupying Kashmir, now sandwiched between India and Pakistan, and make their leaders feel obliged to India, New Delhi made popular Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah as Prime Minster of Jammu Kashmir, thereby making Kashmir a nation within nation. That shrewd action somewhat cooled down Kashmiris who wanted their nation back. Those days there was no BJP or Sivasena, of Hindutva team etc to call Nehru’s action as being betrayal of Hindutva sentiments or “appeasement” of Kashmiris.

The struggle for Kashmir sovereignty has continued since 1947 albeit in a low key but now it has acquired a national character as every Kashmiri is literarily in the street demanding the ouster of Indian forces along with its devastating draconian laws to kill Muslims. Indian regime very skillfully engineered the division between Muslims and Hindus in order to m use the Hindus for the Indian cause.

India sought to keep Kashmir as its “head crown” as seen in the new map of India after annexation of Jammu Kashmir. It does not want to lose that crown. It got Russian support for the occupation and began killing Muslims there with Russian terror goods. Now India has managed the support of both USA and Israel as well and gets their terror goods to attack the defenseless Kashmiris.

However, all these joint attacks on Kashmiris only accelerated the freedom struggle and unrest intensified, forcing the strategists in New Delhi and Sri Nagar to consider ways and means to solve the crisis.

Clearly, Kashmiri resolve to regain sovereignty is very strong. How India would handle issue in a positive manner without further attacking on the hapless Kashmiris is moot question now. India would like to make Kashmir a friendly nation when it becomes soverign.

Now India seems to have taken direct talks with all stake holders seriously to solve the issue presumably once for all.

Accelerated agitation for Article 35-A

Article 35-A gives some status to Kashmiris but the RSS wants to cancel that. Joint Hurriyat leaders have warned of mass agitation against Indian attempts to abrogate Article 35-A. They said the plan, if any, to tinker with the Article 35 A, which gives special rights and privileges to the natives of Jammu and Kashmir, is a conspiracy to create a Palestine like situation in the state.

Joint resistance leadership in Indian administered Jammu & Kashmir comprising of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Molvi Omer Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik asked people to launch mass agitation if the Supreme Court delivers verdict against the interests and aspiration of people of state, saying that any move to tinker with state subject law will create Palestine like situation. JRL said the conspiracy has been hatched to change the demography of the Muslim majority state and added if the state-subject law is removed or any amendment introduced, people from other states of India will purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir and a Palestine like situation will arise and added that the people in the state would resist the “conspiracy” tooth and nail. We will safeguard the integrity and special status of the state at any cost.

JRL said that we are in close contact with religious leaders, civil societies, transporters, businessmen, students, lawyers and other groups, saying they will be taken on board and a special delegation has been formulated to make a consensus after seeking their suggestions in this regard. They reiterated their appeal asking people to be ready and added we are watching the developments and soon a line of action and program will be announced for people.

Ever since India knew that Kashmiris do not want to be a part of India, it began a multipronged strategy o win over them by offering money and power as rulers of Jammu Kashmir. The pro India seditions of Kashmiris just enjoyed the privileges and power, cooperated with New Delhi to target Muslims of Kashmir and got some special favors form New Delhi. But when that did not work, India launched a system of harassment and torture as state policy towards Kashmir to silence the Kashmiris.

Indian occupation forces were invested with extra draconian military laws to deal with Kashmir Muslims the way they want and no actions would be taken against military crimes in Kashmir.

Indian support for state crimes in Kashmir emboldened to attack Muslims though various tactics, including fake encounters.

The Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has, in his recent comments to Press Trust of India, spelt out the strategy for Kashmir clearing all doubts, if there were any. The first response to the cynical use of a Kashmiri Farooq Ahmad Dar as a ‘human shield’ by a Major from the Army itself was one of regret, reflected in the almost immediate decision to order a probe into the incident. This shifted almost overnight, at the instance of the government, to a justification of the act and an award given to the Major for resorting to what most armies in the world would see as an inhuman act. As did several retired officers who wrote of this at the time. And now General Rawat has taken distinct steps further with his recent remarks.

The most revealing comment by the Army chief was, “In fact, I wish these people, instead of throwing stones at us, were firing weapons at us. Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I (want to do),” in an indication that he wished the Kashmiris were using weapons. This in itself denotes a major shift in policy, as with these deliberate comments General Rawat makes it clear that in his view Kashmiris with weapons will be easier to handle as then he “could do what I want to do.”

This statement from the Army chief that has shocked several of his retired colleagues, is reflective of an aggression that the military nurtures for an “enemy” nation, but certainly not for those who are seen as Indian citizens and an ‘integral part of India’.

It marks a decisive pull back from the ‘healing touch’ introduced by his predecessors and Army Corps commanders like Lt General Ata Hasnain insofar as the functioning of the Army in the sensitive border state was concerned.

True to its arrogant and aggressive postures, RSS never sought peace with Kashmiris and wanted to kill all of them. The corporate media lords also have similar views. The Modi regime took away completely all positive development during former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to resolve the issue of insecurity and alienation through an internal dialogue mechanism between New Delhi and all stakeholders in Srinagar.

Recently, PM Modi seems to have lately returned to Vajpayee ideas.

The effort till date has always been by both the political and the military establishment to prevent this from taking place, and somehow ensure that the rebellion within the Valley does not turn into an armed response. General Rawat earns the distinction thus, of being the first Army chief to state this ‘desire’ that will open all roads to a direct armed confrontation between the military and the citizens, a possibility that constitutes a nightmare for most governments.

As further edification the General said, “This is a proxy war and proxy war is a dirty war. It is played in a dirty way. The rules of engagements are there when the adversary comes face-to-face and fights with you. It is a dirty war…. That is where innovation comes in. You fight a dirty war with innovations.” Innovation of course being a positive word for dirty tactics, that go against the grain of military and civil ethics when dealing with citizens from one’s own country.

General Rawat thus voiced what is a political argument that insists that the war is being fought by Pakistan, even though fact finding teams of eminent Indian citizens have pointed out repeatedly that the masses are now active part of the protest, and the alienation has spread through the political mishandling of the Valley. The same has been stated by the so called mainstream elected representatives repeatedly but as a senior legislator said, “no one is listening to us.”

And again, “People are throwing stones at us, people are throwing petrol bombs at us. If my men ask me what do we do, should I say, just wait and die? I will come with a nice coffin with a national flag and I will send your bodies home with honour. Is it what I am supposed to tell them as chief? I have to maintain the morale of my troops who are operating there.” The Army is called in to handle situations of such violence, otherwise there would be no need for military presence in a state that is considered part of India. And is called in when the violence reaches levels that the police cannot control. This is a given. And while the Indian Army is expected to follow political directives as it must, it needs to differentiate between the people of India and enemy nations when it prepares its response and its strategy, as do all armies of democracies in the world.

A comment was indicative of the new declared policy is that probes are not really of any consequence. General Rawat has overturned the enquiry with the award and these subsequent remarks to the media. And virtually confirmed the Kashmiri belief that such courts of inquiry are not neutral when he said that as the agency put it, a general idea about what is going on in the Court of Inquiry and that is why he went ahead with awarding the Major. “I know what is happening in the COI. It is being finalized. What do we punish him for,” the Army chief said. The Major claimed that Dar was perceived by him as a ringleader and hence the action, Dar had said he was a voter and had nothing to do with the ongoing agitation but was caught between.

Stone pelting seems to be frustrating plans for an all out offensive against the people, as it will be seen as an unacceptable over reaction to the young people, including schoolgirls shouting slogans and throwing stones. The Army chief’s trigger happy comments thus, come as a surprise as the effort even in the worst of times in Kashmir has always been to quell the violence somehow, and prevent the youth from picking up arms.

The Indian Army has a major input into strategy for Kashmir, being a virtual stakeholder in the border areas. Successive governments have acted according to military advice insofar as Kashmir is concerned with now retired Army Corps commanders having made the following points to this reporter earlier.

Is Dar supporting freedom struggle or an Indo-Israeli agent?

Israel has its own agenda in Occupied Kashmir to misguide the besieged Palestinians by playing havoc in their lives and divided them, even forcing a war on them- Palestinians, as Israel-US plan, killed amongst themselves. After a fight for nearly 10 years they have decided to come together a unity government.

By licking the Zionist feet, India also follow Israeli strategy in Kashmir but, however, that trick did not work so well in Kashmir. India continued to kill Kashmiri Muslims and at times blame on the “terrorists” so that people turn against the aggressive freedom fighters and kill them alongside the Indian occupation forces engaged in that criminal act.

Many Indian agents are operating in Kashmir obviously with Kashmiri freedom groups as well without revealing their real identity and trying to discredit the serious freedom movement.

Recently, a Jammu and Kashmir police constable is suspected to have joined the militant Lashkar-e-Tayiba in what could be the third such switch by security personnel in the Valley this year. Police ordered a probe after the constable, Isfaq Ahmad Dar, last week announced on social media that he has joined the LeT, a Pakistan-based militant outfit blamed for several terror attacks in India. A photograph of Dar holding an AK-47 assault rifle was also widely circulated on social media and messaging apps in the Valley over the past few days.

In recent months, several policemen have been killed or attacked and their homes ransacked by suspected militants, seen as warnings to local police personnel to stop participating in counter-insurgency operations. Six policemen including an officer were also killed in a militant ambush earlier this year. Sources said Dar was shifted from Kargil to Kathua in July after adverse reports about his alleged “militant sympathies”. “He was under police radar but we can’t arrest a person unless he does something,” a senior police officer said. Dar, from a village in Shopian, had left his home to report back to duty last week. When he did not reach Kathua, family lodged a missing person report. Soon after, the photograph of Dar surfaced on social media. In May, a constable from Shopian, Syed Naveed Mushtaq, decamped with four service rifles and joined the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen.

Two months later, Zahoor Ahmad Thokar — who was with the 173 Territorial Army Engineering regiment at Baramulla — deserted his unit along with his service AK-47 and three magazines and joined militant ranks. Such incidents were first reported in 2015 when two policemen – Naseer Ahmad Pandith from Shopian and Syed raqib Bashir from Pulwama – joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, then led by former commander Burhan Wani, whose killing last year sparked months-long unrest in Kashmir. Both of them were killed in separate encounters with security forces.

In early 2016, Shakoor Ahmad Parray of Shopian, a security guard to a police officer in Bijbehara, was arrested by police after he had run away with four rifles to join a militant group. Police said such incidents are rare and that most of the deserters are from South Kashmir, where anti-India sentiments run deep. “Most of the policemen are from a particular patch in South Kashmir, mostly Pulwama and Shopian. They were recruited between 2010 and 2012 and may be not much background check was done,” a police official said. “They are not radicalized… If they are radicalized they are capable of inflicting more damage in the forces…we have to keep our eyes open and our house clean,” the officer added. Kashmir’s police force is hailed for its professionalism as its personnel are often forced to act against civilians, sometimes even minors, involved in protests and vandalism.

Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik said that as part of the ploy to break the resolve of the people and crush the movement, a multipronged strategy based on use of “extreme force” and coercion was adopted by India particularly after entering into a power alliance with the PDP. “Had the interest of Kashmiri nation, political economic or ethnic, ever been dear to them, they would have stood their ground for safeguarding it and not kept compromising on it one after the other for staying in power,” the JRL said. They said a false binary between tourism and terrorism was created to target those associated with trade and tourism in order to break the back of both these industries.

Observation: Decisive shift in India’s military strategy?

After failed attempts to silence the Kashmiris for decades by “softism” and “harshism”, Indian regime has eventually decided to talk to the all stake holders in Kashmir to find a lasting solution is welcome step and would go further in settling the explosive occupation issue.

India must end its crimes in Kashmir and let the remaining Kashmiris live in prosperity and that would happen only when Kashmiris get back their lost paradise and sovereignty from India, Pakistan and China – the colonialist nations that jointly occupy alien Jammu Kashmir. .

It is imperative for the political parties to move into the areas that ‘sanitize’ and often the delay proves to be very costly. We do not want to stay on in civilian areas when peace is restored, as this brings us into direct conflict with the civilian population that leads to violations at different levels;

The worst possible thing that can happen is if the Kashmiris pick up arms. It is a nightmare, even more for us in the Army than for the political rulers. The freedom leaders are eager to pursue the struggle through peaceful means.

It is important for the governments to diffuse unrest and anger politically as well through talks and dialogue; the Army and its terror strategy cannot be a permanent solution.

Peaceful and sensible talks can do that.

About the author

Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

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