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Ominous Signs In Kashmir – OpEd

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In the afternoon of October 19, 2012, a group of suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists opened fire at a convoy of the Indian Army near Srinagar railway station, at the outskirts of the Srinagar city, capital of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). While fleeing through a nearby hotel, terrorists opened fire killing a hotel staffer and injuring two others. The LeT spokesperson later claimed responsibility for the attack. This incident and many past developments bear an ominous sign. Once more, Kashmir could be heading towards turbulent days.

Terrorism related fatalities have consistently dipped in Kashmir since 2001, below the 1000 mark in 2007 and the 200 mark in 2011. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, barely eighty fatalities have been recorded this year until October 18.

Location of Jammu and Kashmir in India
Location of Jammu and Kashmir in India

The dip in violence is generally ascribed to three factors: Strengthening of the counter-insurgency grid in J&K, which has neutralized much of the local militancy; the unveiling of a range of confidence building measures between India and Pakistan; and more importantly, the occupation of the Pakistani facilitators behind the cross-border militancy along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Not surprisingly, coinciding with the 2002 involvement of Pakistan in the war on terror in Afghanistan, militant activities have steadily declined in J&K. The average annual militancy related fatalities in the state was 2550 between 1990 and 2001. Between 2002 and 2011, it decreased to 1248. In the last three years (2009-2011) it has averaged barely 311, a significant improvement ever since militancy started in the state in 1990.

Not surprisingly, official statements have hailed the return of normalcy to the state. Notwithstanding the undercurrents of discontent, the number of tourists visiting the state has increased. The state recorded highest inflow of tourists in 2011. This has been cited by New Delhi as an example of stability in J&K. In view of the improved situation, presence of central police forces has been reduced by four battalions in past months.

However, in spite these positive indicators, the return of the state to chaos and days of militancy looks more probable than ever before. Several indicators of not only the untamed capacity of the militants, but their real intent of restarting a campaign of violence are now available.

At the foremost is a tactical campaign by the militants to target New Delhi’s endeavors to restart village level self-government institutions (called Panchayats) in the state. Successful elections held to the Panchayats in 2011 amid calls for boycott by the militants had been hailed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a “proof of the people’s desire to be able to lead normal lives free from the shadow of violence and terrorism.”

In recent months, militants have killed eight of such elected representatives. The climate of fear and intimidation has led to fifty-two representatives submitting written resignations to the authorities. Another 900 have published their resignations in local newspapers or have announced such resignations standing in front of the local mosques. The J&K government claims that the unwritten resignations do not count and the representatives continue to be in office. And yet it is no position to ensure that these 900 men return to work. The proclaimed gains from the 2011 elections stands severely eroded.

The October 19 attack was the first attack in capital Srinagar since May 2012. However, in the past nine months, terrorists have succeeded in not only in setting up arms dumps in what could be described as the state’s interior, but also carried out a number of precise spectacular attacks on security forces in many of J&K’s urban centers. These attacks may not yet have resulted in large number of fatalities. But they do suggest an untamed terrorist potential of disruption.

The Indian military has consistently warned of the thriving terrorist infrastructure in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), even when militancy was on a low web in the state. The J&K police intelligence show 824 youth “missing” from the state have reportedly joined militancy and are being trained in the PoK area. Moreover, official data indicate a 100 percent increase in cross-border infiltration by terror groups during the first seven months of 2012. Compared to ninety-three Pakistani militants who attempted to cross over last year, 193 militants have already infiltrated this year.

Over the past years, both India and Pakistan have made visible progress in their bilateral relations. Many of these developments are understandably results of the back channel diplomacy of the United States. In September 2012, both countries signed the liberalized visa agreement. In 2011, Pakistan appeared to make a break from the past by agreeing to reciprocate to India’s 1998 gesture of granting Most Favored Nation (MFN) to Pakistan. Ministers and senior level officials of both countries have met at regular intervals. For two successive years, Prime Minister Singh did not mention Pakistan in his addresses delivered on India’s Independence Day.

However, these positive developments notwithstanding, the issue of Kashmir continues to be whipped up by Pakistani civilian and military leaders to generate popular support at home. On September 25, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari reiterated in the United Nations that Pakistan “will continue to support the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to peacefully choose their destiny.” The restart of full-blown terrorism in J&K, as a result of such moral support, can obliterate all the political and economic achievements of the past years.

This article appeared at Global Views and is reprinted with permission.



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Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray served as a Deputy Director in the National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India and Director of the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM)’s Database & Documentation Centre, Guwahati, Assam. He was a Visiting Research Fellow at the South Asia programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore between 2010 and 2012. Routray specialises in decision-making, governance, counter-terrorism, force modernisation, intelligence reforms, foreign policy and dissent articulation issues in South and South East Asia. His writings, based on his projects and extensive field based research in Indian conflict theatres of the Northeastern states and the left-wing extremism affected areas, have appeared in a wide range of academic as well policy journals, websites and magazines.

6 thoughts on “Ominous Signs In Kashmir – OpEd

  • Avatar
    October 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm
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    Indian army and state forces are committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against the indigenous people of Kashmir. This requires an independent international investigation of crimes against humanity and human rights abuses and the Indian Centre leaders must be charged for alleged crimes against humanity.

    Under the current UPA regime, India is land of corruption, mockery, violence, human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Mafias are at work and no respect for mankind and humanity.

    Thanks to Arvind Kejriwal to expose the corrupt deals and Arvind should expose other human rights and war crimes collaboration deals too to average Indians.

    Kashmiris should join hands with other freedom fighters including Eelam Tamils globally to expose the Indian state terrorism and crimes against humanity.

    India never existed prior to Colonialism and now City names are changes from Bombay to Mumbai and Madras to Chennai and I am confident that British India will break into small nations like pee-colonialist states. The current Indian politicians have proved that they are incompetent, mockery and corrupt and it was Mohandas Gandhi’s mistake that he did not knew the dark side of the so called leaders.

    Kashmir need international monitors and independent international investigation to end the state terrorism and human rights abuses.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    October 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm
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    Where is Srinagar railway station located as quoted in the article?

    “terrorists opened fire at a convoy of the Indian Army near Srinagar railway station, at the outskirts of the Srinagar city”

    Reply
    • Avatar
      October 22, 2012 at 1:18 am
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      As mentioned in the article, at the outskirts of Srinagar.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    October 22, 2012 at 6:20 am
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    for the kashmir conundrum, no use blaming indian military ,they are behaving as any other military would in such circumstances. blame the indian and paki politicians who are interested in perpetuating tensions,protracting talks thereby heightening tension. solution lies in granting real autonomy to jammu & kashmir,less interferance in their politics and confidence building measures, delinking religion from politics, going all out to encourage secular politics, guarantying jobs for all eligible youth and prayer to ahe almighty to give good sense to all the stake holders.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    October 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm
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    Indian security forces are acting deterrents for these Islamic brute terrorists inspired by the ISI/Pak Military via the jihadi bands of LeT
    and until these are controlled, so called Kashmir under India will never sieze. Why do one ignore the PoK Kashmir and the part under occupation of China? The root cause is PoK and the terrorist camps run there under the supervision of Lashkar guided by ISI. Why did my
    freinds forget about these illicit militant camps. Will International regimes also look at the Pakistani jihadi enclaves? We all know, how these PoK based terrorists guide these thugs in IoK to kill the few local Muslims as fodder to these separatist politicians in IoK acting as Paki agents. If you create trouble, then will Indian security services feed you lollipops or fire bullets and kill you…??? Yes Pakistan is a failed state and the recent statement of Zardari in UN is understandable, but he had nothing else to speak except old worn out Kashmir saga out of the dustbin. Zardari did it to divert attention from his tackers at home for his old sins in Pak SC. He sees nightmares of Iftikhar Choudhary devil. Poor Zardari…

    Reply
  • Avatar
    October 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm
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    India is aware of but the current leaders are too inept to handle their own backyards. India is well prepared. Some commentators use this pious box for venting their misguided lose intellect just for the sake of inflamming passions. They are easy to spot even by their misleading fake names. ISI is master in such spurious immoral jobs and even keeps tabs on such portals. Recent muslim unrest in Assam, Mumbai, Karnataka are her handiworks. Instead of just one pointed stupid violent activities in promotion of Caliphate incessantly will never bring lorals. Islamic world must learn to set their priority. The current Islamic practices have drawn disdain globally. People are fed up of their mindless devious violence.

    Reply

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