Tuesday turned out to be yet another bloody day in Kashmir. While a targeted attack in the Soura area of Srinagar left a policeman dead and his seven-year-old daughter injured, three innocent civilians sustained injuries due to a grenade hurled at security forces in Yaripora area of Kulgam district in South Kashmir. Though a terrorist group calling itself ‘The Resistance Front’ [TRF] has taken responsibility for the Soura killing, this senseless act nevertheless raises several questions.
Firstly, fear of retribution may prevent locals from publicly condemning the cold-blooded murder an unarmed policeman who had come home on leave and the injuring his infant daughter. However, there’s no doubt that such despicable acts result in the perpetrators getting alienated from the masses. So, why is TRF indulging in such despicable acts of senseless violence that lowers its own image amongst the very people whose support it desperately needs in order to survive, and then goes on to take responsibility for the same?
Secondly, despite emergence of fancy phrases like ‘hybrid terrorists’ to describe those involved in targeted killing of innocent civilians in Kashmir, this reprehensible trend is as old as the advent of terrorism in J&K itself. In fact, in 2011, didn’t senior Hurriyat leader Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat himself say as much by publicly admitting that “This movement [terrorism in J&K] started with the assassinations of thinkers and the people who held an opinion”?
Furthermore, by going on to say that “Neither the Army nor the police killed Lone sahib [Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference founder Abdul Ghani Lone] and Maulvi Farooq sahib [Kashmir Awami Action Committee chairman Mirwaiz Moluvi Mohammad Farooq] but our own people,” didn’t Bhat also admit that Pakistan’s proxies were creating contrived narratives to falsely implicate security forces in such killings?
However, unlike in the past when no terrorist group would accept responsibility for such heinous acts, today, terrorist groups with new names are unapologetic while taking responsibility for targeted killings, even when women and children are killed or injured.
This is not only unprecedented but also inexplicable.
Logically speaking, adopting this self-incriminating practice doesn’t seem to make any sense. But if one relates the same to what Islamabad has been claiming all along, then a clearer picture of Pakistan’s duplicity emerges. On realising that its specious post Article 370 abrogation narrative had no takers, Islamabad understood that the only way it could keep the Kashmir pot boiling was by ‘manufacturing’ anarchy. A clear indication of this was given by none other than the then Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and that too, from the UNGA podium in 2019.
In his UNGA address, Khan threw across the question- “But what will happen when 8 million Kashmiris come out of a lockdown and face 900,000 troops?” and then promptly replied it himself by saying, “I fear there will be a bloodbath.” However, ISI and Pakistan’s proxies led by All Parties Hurriyat Conference [APHC] failed to orchestrate public protests against Article 370 abrogation, while proactive actions by security forces, coupled with increasing public support, resulted in terrorists suffering major setbacks due to which they were unable to up the ante as far as escalating violence levels was concerned.
Resultantly, Khan’s “bloodbath” prognosis, which was based on the assumption that by instigating mobs to indulge in violence and arson, law enforcement agencies would be compelled to use force against protesters and this would cause deaths and injuries, which could be touted as “bloodbath.” Similarly, attacking security forces in crowded places to provoke them into reacting and thereby causing collateral damage that could be portrayed as a “bloodbath” also failed.
Having painted itself into a corner by claiming that the people of Kashmir had unanimously rejected the center’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and were up in arms against this decision, ISI took the desperate step of adding a new variant of violence to the ongoing terrorist activities in J&K. It cunningly created new terrorist outfits on paper and while its proxies are carrying out targeted killings on its orders, responsibility for such dastardly crimes is being taken by non-existent entities like TRF.
ISI’s aim is simple- counter New Delhi’s ‘normalcy’ claim by creating a heightened state of insecurity in J&K by such killings and simultaneously protecting terrorist groups being sponsored by ISI from international censure by making non-existent groups accept responsibility for the same.
Incidentally, this move is also completely in line with Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s public announcement that “Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations…” Since Rawalpindi calls the shots in Pakistan, the latter part of Gen Bajwa’s assurance to the pro-Pakistan lobby is indeed very worrisome.
ISI is trying to peddle the lies that terrorist groups like TRF, United Liberation Front of Kashmir [ULFK], Kashmir Tigers, and People’s Anti-Fascist Force [PAFF] have emerged post Article 370 abrogation. The aim of doing so is simple- try and convince the world that targeted killings which these groups are taking responsibility for and the resultant mayhem are mere manifestations of public ire against this decision, and as such not a part of what Gen Bajwa euphemistically refers to as the “just struggle” in J&K!
So, what India is currently facing in J&K is an extremely virulent form of terrorism and as such an effective counter strategy to thwart ISI’s nefarious designs is crying need of the hour. It would therefore be prudent to avoid use of buzz words like ‘hybrid terrorists’ while referring to the perpetrators of targeted killings and describing this practice as a new phenomenon, since the same can well be misused by ISI to buttress its false narrative.