By Jai Kumar Verma*
The sinister Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and its underlings disturb law and order in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on flimsy grounds. Recently, when the J&K government decided to issue domicile certificates to the refugees who had migrated from Pakistan, the separatists criticised the move and alleged that the government is doing so with the ulterior motive of changing the demography of the state.
Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Prasad clarified that the government is not giving citizenship to these refugees and this certificate would only enable them to get jobs so that they can live honourably. Nonetheless, the argument did not satisfy the separatists and they indulged in protests, demonstrations and shutdowns.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of the Awami Action Committee of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, and leaders of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and National Conference, besides others, alleged that the move was against the spirit of Article 370 of the Indian constitution. These leaders have again crippled the Kashmir valley after Friday prayers. The Mirwaiz and others gave fiery speeches and JKLF chief Yasin Malik was then detained by the security agencies.
The law and order situation in the first half of 2016 was relatively peaceful but the separatists were looking for an opportunity to create unrest. Unfortunately, they got a trigger when Indian security forces, in a joint operation, killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. There was a reward of Rs 10 lakh on Wani, who was posting doctored videos and photographs on the internet and was involved in instigating the youth to join terrorist outfits. He pushed more than 100 young Kashmiris into terrorism and was implicated in snatching of fire arms from security forces.
The separatists took advantage of the situation and ISI-assisted terrorist organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Al-Badr and, most importantly, Hurriyat leaders started a period of demonstrations, protests and shutdowns in the state.
The separatists mobilised crowds in the name of Islam. Curfew was imposed which continued for about 53 days, mobile phone services were suspended and more than 82 persons, including two security force personnel, were killed and about 5,000 people were injured.
The security forces have launched extensive search operations in the valley and these search operations are rendering results and the security forces are able to recover fire-arms and kill terrorists. The influence of terrorist outfits is declining and the ordinary civilians, who are discontented over the declining law and order situation, provide actionable intelligence to the security forces.
The security forces must continue search operations without giving attention to the distorted advice of so-called human rights activists and five-star intellectuals who advocate stringent actions against security forces in cases of alleged atrocities but are compassionate towards terrorists.
Analysts believe that newly-appointed Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt. General Naveed Mukhtar would be less anti-India than their predecessors and both would work with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in reducing the prevailing tension with India although the process would be slow.
The policy planners in Delhi must chalk out a comprehensive plan to tackle the Kashmir problem. First of all, both the state and central governments, as well as nationalist political parties, should launch an aggressive campaign in the valley to convince the masses that Pakistan and secessionist outfits are disturbing the law and order of the state with the ulterior motive of impeding the progress of the state which is far ahead in economic development than Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), what Pakistan calls fancifully “Azad Kashmir”..
Damaging school buildings is proof that the terrorists want Kashmiri children to remain uneducated. The pitiable condition of Balochis, Sindhis, Mohajirs, Kashmiris and Pashtuns in Pakistan is a testimony to the fact that, except Punjabis, all others are discontented in that country.
Government agencies should also take help of Imams, intellectuals, patriots, press and teachers to convince the masses about the reprehensible designs of Pakistan.
In the past, imams of mosques were Kashmiris with Sufi ideology but now a large number of mosques are controlled by separatists and they have surreptitiously appointed imams who are propagating Wahhabism in the state. These newly-appointed imams sermonise extremism and several times demonstrations are held after Friday prayers. The government must control mosques and madrassas which are working as anti-India centres.
The security agencies should take stringent action against the persons and organisations that are behind the demonstrations, pelting of stones and street violence. There was no demonstration or pelting of stones a few days after demonetisation as there was no cash available to the sponsors of such activities. The organisers have now arranged currency and demonstrations and stone-throwing have again started.
The intelligence agencies should act against the organisers of these protests who are taking advantage of the rampant unemployment in the state and alluring the unemployed youth to join the protests in return of paltry sums and in the name of Islam.
J&K is an integral part of India and the law of the land must prevail. Security forces must enforce law and order stringently although excess use of force should be avoided — but the separatists should not be allowed to disturb peace and tranquility in the state. Demonstrators, including children, cannot be permitted to throw stones at security forces and, if parents are unable to stop their sons and daughters, security forces must use force to repulse their attacks.
Induction of more army units in the valley is a welcome move as it will enhance the confidence level of peaceful citizens. The armed forces must minimise the infiltration and the communication system, including road, rail and air services, should continue uninterrupted in the state. The policy-makers should also decide whether para-military forces should work under the armed forces for better command and control.
There must be better cohesion in multiple intelligence agencies active in J&K and they must produce actionable intelligence. It is always difficult to collect human intelligence in terrorist-infested areas; hence due importance should be given to electronic intelligence.
Indian security forces, as well as intelligence agencies, must remain prepared for other surgical strikes which should be deep inside POK and it should not only be on launching pads but it should be on their training centres, so that the trainers as well as leaders of diverse terrorist outfits get the message that if they kill innocent Indians then their lives too are in danger and Indian forces can opt for surgical strikes and intelligence agencies can send death squads inside Pakistan.
The low-intensity war launched by Pakistan should not only be fought on Indian territory but should also be wrestled inside enemy territory.
*Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to email@example.com