There are reports that Indian Air force MIGS launched an attack on terrorist camps in Pakistan and dropped bombs demolishing the terror hubs and killing many (26th February 2019). This has been the fallout of the dreaded terrorist attack in Pulwama in which 44 CRPF jawans were killed when a car carrying explosives, probably RDX, drove into the convoy of trucks carrying 2400 CRPF jawans. Prime Minster Modi, in the aftermath of this dastardly act of terror stated that army has been given a go ahead to take suitable action. BJP President Amit Shah and many of the BJP leaders asserted that since this is Modi Government, not Congress, a proper action will be taken. In the atmosphere which has been created it seems to suggest as if now with Modi coming to power that national security is being well taken care of unlike the earlier weak Congress Governments.

What are the facts? The terror attack itself led to lot of questions related to Modi’s being effective in protecting our borders. How come a car loaded with huge quantity of RDX sneaked into the high security Srinagar-Jammu highway to begin with? Who has been responsible for this security lapse? One recalls that in the aftermath of 26/11 2008, when Mumbai was attacked by ten well armed terrorist who came in a dingy and landed on Mumbai shore, the then Central Home minister Shivraj Patil and the Maharashtra Home minister R R Patil both had to resign.  The beginning of rectifying mistakes starts with tightening the lapses. Nobody is being taken to task for this massive security lapse. The state of security was further revealed when we came to know that that Mr. Modi was unaware of this attack for good period of time as he was busy shooting for a video film in Jim Corbett resort.

What was most disturbing in the aftermath of this terror attack was the fact that Kashmiri students and traders were targeted in different places like Dehradun, Ludhiana and Aurangabad. Most of the attackers were associated with Hindu right wing groups. While many Sikh groups came to their rescue it was the Supreme Court, which gave verdict that Kashmiris should be given protection. It is much later that Mr. Modi stated that Kashmiri should not be attacked, but by that time lot of damage was already done. As in the earlier cases of attacks on dalits in Una or targeting of Muslims in Cow related lynching Modi opened his mouth to oppose these either formally or late enough to let the damage take place.

Some of our TV studios, news channels, which already spread ultra nationalism and hate; intensified their ‘hate minorities’, anti Kashmiri rhetoric. The type of targeting of Kashmiri students and Kashmiri traders has been there mainly due to the atmosphere created by section of media, news channels and the vigilante groups. The statement of Meghalaya Governor Tathgat Roy, to boycott Kashmiris is totally against the spirit of our Constitution and he must be prevailed upon to take back this call. The most surprising part of this incident has been the attack in the Bangalore franchise of Karachi Bakery. Incidentally the foundation of this chain was laid by Khnachand Ramnanai, who migrated to India, Hyderabad at the time of partition. While this Government is strong on rhetoric and has the wont of showing bravado, its record in dealing with terrorism and security has been abysmal.

The available data from the official sources tell us the the number of incidents of terror related attacks, those joining militancy and the number of security personnel killed during NDA regime has been much higher than at the time of UPA regime. The data from IndiaSpend analysis (a non-profit data portal) based on government data shows that over 800 terror incidents have been reported in J&K over the three years ending 2017, increasing from 208 in 2015 to 342 in 2017. As many as 744 people have died in these three years: 471 terrorists, 201 security forces and 72 civilians. The main reason for this rise has been the insensitive policies of the Modi Government in which dialogue has been replaced by the pellet guns In response to the Pulwama attack, government has dispatched more troops to the area, the security cover of separatist leaders has been withdrawn and youth have been warned of dire consequences if they take up guns. One recalls that even Adil Ahmad Dar, one who drove the car which rammed into CRPF truck, had taken to this path of terror was the one who was thrashed by military an year ago, after which he took to this path which landed him in the lap of JaishE Mohammad.

One only hopes that the present action by Indian armed forces does not escalate further. The national sentiments have been roused, trade with Pakistan has been curtailed by withdrawing the most favored nation’ status to Pakistan. As such we need to introspect, can this region afford violence over and over again? The underlying factors leading to India-Pakistan-Kashmir discord need to be tackled through a process of dialogue. The hope and prayer is that this limited strike, also being called as ‘surgical strike two’ remains just that and not no more. Imran Khan in the face of aggressive postures has offered to take action if proper evidence is given to Pakistan. He has also shown his willingness for talks. Meanwhile United Nations General Secretary has offered to mediate in the process to bring peace and amity in the region. These are the olive branches we need to grab to see that decade long problem is sorted out. India as a country direly needs to bring the issues related to development, corruption, jobs and agrarian crisis back on the table. It is resolution of these issues which will bring in peace and prosperity in the region, away from the smell of gunpowder on the soil and hate for minorities in the air.  

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

The suicidal terrorist, Adil Ahmad Dar, rammed his explosive laden car into two trucks of a CRPF convoy on 14 February 2019. The blast led to the brutal murder of 44 jawans, a big national tragedy, most heinous and condemnable. In terms of scale and casualties, it exceeds even the Uri attack of 18 September 2016, in which four heavily armed terrorists targeted an Army brigade headquarters, killing 19 soldiers. The Pulwama attack is even more serious than car-bombing at the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly complex in Srinagar on 1 October 2001, that killed 38 people. Both the Uri and Legislative Assembly terrorist attacks are said to have been carried out by the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (J-e-M). The same organisation has also taken responsibility for the Pulwama attack now.

In the aftermath of the Uri attack, India undertook a surgical strike in Pakistan, with the assumption that it is the fitting response to Uri terror attack. Pakistan denied any such attack having taken place on its soil. One recalls that even when demonetisation was undertaken, the claim was that it will curtail militancy in Kashmir as terrorists are able to operate with counterfeit currency, and demonetisation will render this currency useless. It is clear that there is no let up in terrorist attacks in Kashmir.

Following the attack, the Modi Government is trying to flex its muscles. Prime Minster Modi has declared that the army has been given a green signal to take suitable steps to counter the situation. Meanwhile, other developments taking place on the ground across the country are disturbing. There are reports that Kashmiri students have been threatened in various cities in several states. Tathagat Roy, the Governor of Meghalaya has given the call to boycott Kashmiris. A deliberate attempt is being made by Hindutva groups like Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party supporters to whip up nationalistic passions with chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, waving of the tricolour, giving slogans against Pakistan, and associating Pakistan with Muslims. The likes of Anupam Kher and Sonu Nigam are spewing anger against secular and liberal people. At several places, vigilante groups are threatening Muslims. The situation in Jammu required the imposition of curfew as the threat to Muslims was palpable in the area. The BJP’s state chief of J&K Ravindra Raina and MP Jugal Kishore took part in the protests targeting the Muslims. The BJP has distanced itself from the violence without giving any statement condemning the participation of its leaders in these vicious protests.
The violence has left Kashmiri Muslims living in Jammu and other parts of India fearful.

It is another matter that in different places, many Muslim groups have come on the streets to denounce Pakistan and have strongly condemned the terror attack. The Chief of Ajmer Dargah, Syed Zainul Abedin, went to the extent of saying that people from Pakistan will be barred from visiting the Ajmer shrine. On one hand, activists and groups wanting peace have issued appeals for sheltering the targeted Kashmiris, while many local level leaders have threatened that those sheltering Kashmiris will be attacked. The speeches of communal elements are charging up the atmosphere in a very negative and divisive way.

How do we deal with this situation and bring peace to Kashmir? First we have to identify as to why the region is gripped in such a terror. There are multiple components, which have got mixed up. The militancy in Kashmir began in the decades of 1960s and assumed horrendous proportions since the 1980s. The core issue was the feeling of alienation in Kashmir. The feeling is that their autonomy has been curtailed over a period of time. This autonomy was a part of the treaty through which Kashmir acceded to India. As per article 370, Kashmir Assembly has all powers barring the areas of defense, communications, currency and external affairs. The abolition of this clause has been the an important part of the Hindutva agenda of RSS–BJP.

After the accession of Kashmir to India, the communal groups started the campaign that Kashmir should be totally merged into India. This sowed the seeds of the process of alienation of Kashmiri people right from the 1950s onwards. As this alienation increased, it led to many elements becoming disgruntled eventually led to the birth of militancy, which was given full support from across the border by Pakistan. Another development which has fuelled the growth of terrorism in the region is related to the politics for the control of oil resources. This process was initiated by America which helped the grooming of Al Qaeda type elements in Pakistani madrassas. This process of grooming terrorist elements was not only encouraged by also totally funded by America in the 1980s (America spent 8000 million dollars and supplied armaments to the tune of 7000 tons). These terrorist groups, after winning the war against the Soviet/Russian occupation of  Afghanistan, now became jobless and so entered Kashmir, taking advantage of the dissatisfaction that was already there. They trampled upon the unique culture of Kashmir, known as Kashmiriyat, a cultural synthesising of Buddhist values, Vedanta and Sufi tradition. This was one of the major factors which started the communalisation of the Kashmir problem and led to the exodus of Kahmiri Pundits from the Valley.

The Al Qaeda type terror groups, funded by America and housed in Pakistan, have now assumed the form of Frankenstein’s monster. Pakistan has lost over seventy thousand people in terror attacks, including the ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. These terror groups do indeed get patronage from a section of the Pakistani army. The response to the situation of turmoil in Kashmir region requires a comprehensive understanding of the genesis and growth of terrorism in Kashmir. Adil Ahmad Dar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad recruit, is a local boy form Kashmir, who took the path of terror after being thrashed by the army. So far, most foot soldiers of the terror outfits have been from across the border. Now agitated local boys also have started joining these organisations. It is to be noted that during the last four and half years of Modi rule, the number of terror acts, recruits for terrorism and the army personnel killed in such incidents has gone up several times. An IndiaSpend analysis (a non-profit data portal) based on government data shows that over 800 terror incidents have been reported in J&K over the three years ending 2017, increasing from 208 in 2015 to 342 in 2017. As many as 744 people have died in these three years: 471 terrorists, 201 security forces and 72 civilians. While one can say that Pakistan based terror groups have played a major role in increasing the terror acts, it is equally true that this increase is the result of policies of the Modi regime, where dialogue has been replaced by bullets and pellet guns. Can terrorism be wiped out by bullets alone?

We of course need to improve the intelligence and security and prevent recurrence of such attacks.  Surely the Pakistan based terror groups need to be punished and brought to book. At the same time, it also needs to be realised that a surgical strike and aggressive words cannot save the region from the present tormenting situation. War is no solution, war itself is the problem. It is the soldiers again who will have to bear the brunt of the damages of war. Along with that, the whole region will sink into an abyss from which recovery will take years. While pursuing a firm policy in Kashmir and with our neighbour, we need to initiate a solid process of dialogue with the disgruntled elements and with our neighbour to bring peace to the region. A lasting peace is what we need; temporary aggressive measures will not eliminate the seeds of terror in the region. We need to introspect and realise that while Pakistani support and housing of terror groups worsens the situation, unless we address the grievances of local people, the outsiders will keep making merry by instigating and supporting the local dissident elements.

The creation of an atmosphere of retaliation is worsening the situation. It is a short sighted response, and inadequate to eliminate the problem of terrorism in the region. The present atmosphere where Muslims are feeling insecure and Kashmiris are being targeted is worsening the situation. We do need to give an atmosphere of security and amity to all our citizens. An appeal of harmony from the top may restrain the communal elements who in their display of hyper nationalism are creating a situation which violates the principle of fraternity, the foundation of our nation and the base of our Constitution. 

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED