Viciousness of Wishfulness- Kashmir Policy and Return of Hindus

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Two recent incidents in the Kashmir valley reveal the viciousness of the situation. Local newspapers reported that on 1 July 2011, Havaldar J.S. Adhikari and Lance Naik Devender Singh of 19th Rajput where beheaded by terrorists in Kupwara while on duty.

The incident was kept under wraps and came to light through local media only on July 30. The bodies were handed over to their families in Uttarakhand without heads, which some say were carried away by the terrorists as a trophy.

Another incident occurred when one of the Home Ministry interlocutors, Ms. Radha Kumar, visited a transition camp in Kashmir where the Kashmiri Hindus employed, as per the Prime Minister’s package on return and rehabilitation, have been put up. This was during the last leg of her interactions in the Kashmir Valley before the interlocutors submitted their final report. She had a meeting with the Hindu ladies living in the camp.

The Hindu ladies, as per eyewitnesses, told Radha Kumar about the communal harassment and intimidation they had to face daily while doing their jobs. Radha Kumar told them to learn to ignore unpleasant things as she herself had learned to do while working in a Muslim institution. The camp inmates later received telephone calls from the correspondent of a local English daily, which were less of a normal journalist enquiry and more of a warning to behave. Most of them later concluded that they should not have revealed their experiences in front of the interlocutor.

The Malaise
Sitting over the beheading of two army men just before the visit of the Pak Foreign Minister indicates a deeper malaise. The Government of India has been flaunting incremental capitulations as strategic necessities. The symptoms of this malaise have been there for quite some time.

When Vajpayee was sitting in the bus bound for his infamous Lahore visit, he was informed about a gruesome massacre of civilians by terrorists in Jammu. He was dismissive about any import of this gruesome massacre on the ongoing Indo Pak peace process. The inherent message was clear. The citizens of this country were expendable to some larger national goal that the State was pursuing.

The fakeness of this approach was exposed when Vajpayee chose to send his Foreign Minister to Kandahar to get the hostages of the hijacked plane released after striking a deal with the terrorist regimes operating there. The Vajpayee government cited public pressure as a reason for the tame surrender. Here public indispensability became the core rationale for overriding strategic security imperatives.

Faced with a mortal combat situation, a large section of the Indian leadership is cultivating wishes which are more fatal than the problem. Dr Manmohan Singh Kohli has also chosen to mount the same wish horse. While Vajpayee and his think tank led by Brijesh Mishra chose to flaunt their wishes as a new strategic vision, Singh seems to believe his wishes to be ideological imperatives. This perhaps explains why he chose to invite the Pak Prime Minister recently, despite knowing that just days before his intelligence agencies had discovered a Pak sponsored plot to attack the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan. He invited him perhaps against institutional strategic advice. There are doubts whether what the Prime Minister of India is pursuing with Pakistan has the acceptance of the national institutions handling matters of national security.

Recent articulations of the National Security Advisor were veiled expressions of his differences with the Pak doctrine which Manmohan Singh has been pursuing. Pakistan’s brazen affronts to India while the latter is bending over backwards to accommodate Islamabad reflect elemental contradictions in the so-called peace process which the Indian Prime Minister is pursuing.

Feigning return of normalcy in Jammu & Kashmir, and belittling the import of what is happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan, is perhaps linked to this bizarre mindset which has taken control of those in the political class who are overruling the strategic and tactical needs of the nation at this juncture. Instead of analyzing the ground situation to determine responses, the government approach suffers a unique perversion. It blacks out happenings on the ground and selectively marshals empirical data about the situation to sustain its policy or rather its wishes. The inertia to understand what is happening is self-created.

The Inertia
The National Security Advisor recently made two very pertinent interventions. In a letter to the Prime Minister, he clearly stated that the Pakistani State was losing control over the extremists who would come power sooner rather than later in Pakistan. He urged the Prime Minister to take measures to respond to the situation. He observed that the dividing line between State actors and non-State actors in Pakistan is fading out. The recent happenings have clearly shown that the Pakistani Government has shunned its approach of deniability and clearly started owning terrorist regimes operating there as its strategic assets. On the Indian side, correlating these developments to the emerging situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country is at best in the academic realm.

Even at the academic level there is reluctance to understand what is happening. Else there would have been recognition of the fact that the fading of the line between non-State actors and State actors has been manifest on the Indian side in Jammu and Kashmir for a long time. Allowing this has been part and parcel of the Indian response in Jammu and Kashmir. Using the platform of the Legislative Assembly or any other credible forum for promoting the secessionist agenda got encouragement from the Government of India at the highest level.

Both the Union Home Minister and Foreign Minister publicly sided with Omar Abdullah when he claimed that Jammu & Kashmir had signed only the Instrument of Accession and not the Instrument of Merger, particularly when the veracity and import of his claim was debated on the basis of facts in Jammu. The stone-pelting campaign in Kashmir Valley last year demonstrated the fading away of the distinction between State actors and non-State actors in ample measure. The recent grenade attacks in Kashmir Valley and allegations by a top NC leader that it was the Army’s handiwork reflects how terrorist regimes and their supporters in government are working in tandem.

There is no attempt to recognize the temporary shift of the focus of Jihad to the heart of Pakistan, and to analyze the fall in violence in Jammu & Kashmir in this context. Crucial ideological and strategic issues of the Jihadi war in the region are getting settled in Pakistan at his juncture. How long will the State of Pakistan pretend its distance from the Islamic Jihad for which it has been the primary motor? How much value does the State of Pakistan attach to sustain its deniability vis-à-vis the non-State assets it has created and perpetuated in this region?

Much public evidence is now available that the State of Pakistan no longer thinks it feasible to deny closeness to terrorist regimes operating in the region. It may soon become brazen enough to openly declare its closeness to the international Jihad, as also its mentorship. After the killing of Osama bin Laden many of Pakistan’s top strategic thinkers openly acknowledged that it had been in Pakistan’s national interests to protect and shield Osama. They are now openly acknowledging closeness to the Haqqani group.

The non-State actors Pakistan created in the region had a conflict situation with the Pakistani State primarily because they wanted it to proclaim and declare its Islamic role unashamedly. This so called rift between non-State actors it created and the State of Pakistan is fast evaporating and will have a dramatic impact in Jammu and Kashmir. The situation on this side may suddenly look grimmer.

The recent five-day gun battle in Kupwara, wherein the army suffered heavy causalities, is only a reminder that the Jihad machinery in Kashmir is well oiled. The terrorist regimes on this side of the border have merged deftly with the State apparatus to meet the contingencies of the times. An analysis of the situation in the state is not a uni-factor affair. Churning out retrospective violence statistics or number of tourists visiting the State and making assessments on the same is only an exercise of self-delusion.

Increasing radicalization of the social milieu in Kashmir, increased reach and influence of terrorist regimes to influence mainstream politics, and fading away of the dividing line between separatist infrastructure and government apparatus, widening of the network of illegal economy in the State, multiplication of sleeper cells on the ground, deepening nexus between separatists in the State and separatist organisations in the rest  of India, particularly the Maoists, increased propaganda against the Army in the name of human rights, and the widening  capabilities of terrorist regimes are factors which should be factored in while making a judgment about the ground situation in the State.

Last but not the least, the increased influence of China as well as the Pakistani Army over the public mind, especially the intellectual elite in Kashmir, cannot be overlooked. Unfortunately those at the helm in India are ruthlessly following a course of blacking out all information and realities on the ground which can exert pressures on the existing policy direction. A situation has emerged where all national leverages and supports in the State are getting treated as problem areas and impediments to national endeavors in the State.

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