Published by Kashmir News Trust
Srinagar, Aug 29 / 2017
By: Jalil Rathore
The million dollar question, that is haunting people in mainland in as much as in hinterland right now, is that why educated, some highly qualified boys, most of which come from the families with strong financial background are picking up guns. To analyze the facts, one has to delve deep into the history of militancy right from its inception in late nineties.
There were times, in 90 when people would come out on roads in rallies, in thousands, where women and children would outnumber men, raising pro freedom slogans. From throughout the length and breadth of valley they would start a journey from their respective villages and hamlets, which would culminate at UNMOGIP office in Sonwar. While civilians had a free access to the local office of this world body, militants were calling the shrts in every area. Forces were caught unaware and were in a deep shock over the sudden change in public behavior. Intelligence had fallen flat with no clue about what was happening around. Mainstream politician had either fled from the valley or gone into hibernation. It seemed as if India had succumbed before the will of Kashmiris and given up Kashmir. Holding the parliament election in 96 was an uphill task for the centre and rightly so, as the meager turnout of voters in the said election was indicated that India had lost its ground in the state, valley and Pir Panchal region in particular.
Then things took a turn with the passage of time in favor of the government and security agencies began to gain control over the situation. Public rallies were dealt with force and the chase of militants begun to bear fruit. Since then around seventy thousand Kashmiris, including 219 Pandits who lost their lives in the conflict. The ugliest part of this bloody conflict is the exodus of the minority Pandit community from the valley. Whether they ran out of fear or on the behest of the then Governor Jagmohan is a matter to settle down between the two communities, but the fact remains that the impact of this dark era will take ages to fill the gap between these two communities, that otherwise share the same genes and heritage.
Some, who attribute the success of security forces towards the latter part of nineties to adaptation of hard policy and strengthening the intelligence grid, but they fail to explain as to why this policy is failing now, despite Central Government getting tough against the separatist movement and its supporters. Even the topmost man in uniform, the Army Chief General Bipin Rawat went to the extent of labeling those civilians as terrorists, who were coming out to protest, whenever there was an encounter between security forces and militants. He warned that they will be treated as upper ground workers and dealt with sternly. This did not turn out as to be merely a hollow warning, since after its issuance the security forces in the line of action put this warning into reality by shooting dead and pallet-ing blind scores of protestors or stone palters, who would dare to venture out in good numbers to save the militants holed up in different areas of South Kashmir or engaged in encounters with security forces.
Here one wonders that despite so much of hard-line approach why people are coming out endangering their lives in such situation and why not in times bygone. To understand that one needs to do the postmortem of militant separatism right from where it started. While doing so one reaches to the conclusion that in its beginning , less of the militants joined the militancy out of conviction and more out of glamour that it held within. There were no criteria for the militant organizations to enroll people for the outfit and any Tom, Dick or Hary was welcome to strengthen the man power in a quest to establish supremacy. The results were disastrous for armed insurgency, as people of all characters jumped in the race of picking up the guns. Most of such people indulged in harassing common people and extorting money from them. Those who supported the armed rebellion were caught up between the devil and the deep sea. This phenomenon resulted in the decline of the support to the rebellions, even for those, who were genuinely fighting for the cause chosen by them. This made the task quite easy for the establishment to deal with the situation and consolidate the grip of security forces over the situation. What remained intact were the political aspirations of the people.
Addressing the genuine grievances of the people efforts towards a political solution was the step here, which any sane government would have initiated to solve the problem permanently at this juncture. Quite reverse to that the governments in center and in state, overwhelmed with the success at security front continued with slumber and instead continued with its stale policy and ostrich like approach. On one side the recommendations of self appointed interlocutors were put into the dustbin and on the other space for political struggle and protests were shrunk. To add fuel to the fire, in the aftermath of Amarnath land row, 2010 and 2016 uprising, a reign of terror was let loose on youth by the police and security forced. Innocents, mostly teenagers were rounded up, beaten mercilessly and paraded naked in custody. Matchil fake encounter or shooting school going children like sitting ducks without any accountability, these types of incidents changed the whole mindset of the youth. This definitely had an impact on their thinking and frustration levels went higher and higher. With hot blood running in their veins, most of such victims found refuge in picking up arms and take on security forces. Examples are not wanting, when boys like Burhan Wani, a brilliant student hailing from a well to do and educated family picked up the gun to give a vent to his anger and avenge the humiliation. Unlike the early age militants, these boys having strong conviction and all the ability to use information technology and modern gadgetry have used and are using to inspire more and more people to join the militancy.
Despite being neutralized at an alarming rate over since last one or two years, there is no let up in the trend. With people in large numbers coming out in their open support with their lives at risk, the situation is getting worse with every passing day and with every encounter and the loss of life on both sides thereof. This definitely is a very dangerous, alarming and concerning situation. Unfortunately there seems no end to this bloody conflict, as on ground the Central Government seems unwilling to address the problem politically, but with force. Here the role of State Government would have come handy to suggest the corrective measures to Delhi, but the present dispensation in the state, clinging to the chair prefers to go with the tide. History will not forgive any of the parties for the approach they have adopted presently, but the cost paid for the follies will be very high. Rigidity of the side which needs to be compassionate will lead nowhere, but towards further loss of life.
Be it a Kashmiri rebel or a jawan in uniform.
(The author is a broadcaster and senior freelance journalist. He writes for Gulf News and other Dailies and is also associated with electronic media)
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