Kashmir Valley Continues to Simmer

Issues Details: 
Vol 10 Issue 4 Sep - Oct 2016
Page No.: 
Sub Title: 
More than two months after Burhan Wani’s encounter, the valley remains in a state of unrest
Ashwani Sharma
Monday, October 3, 2016
The upsurge of violence in all ten Districts of the Kashmir Valley post the killing of Burhan Wani, continues in spurts.  While the State’s response on ground has been the predictable imposition of curfew,  application of force to contain violence and outreach to local ‘leadership’ for cooperation in restoring calm, the real challenges lie in how the more substantial  ‘strategic’ aspects are addressed. 
As I mentioned in my previous editorial, Burhan Wani is not in the league of Archduke Ferdinand, but his killing did trigger a chain of ‘waiting to happen’ events the build up to which have been noticeable since 2015. Kashmir watchers had long cautioned on the dual prongs of increased militancy and radicalisation of the Kashmiri population. Besides the usually mentioned causative factors of lack of economic opportunities, frustration due to high unemployment and absence of a political dialogue, this time the focus has been on  excessive militarisation and human rights violations. In short, on the Security Forces.
That radicalisation has permeated Kashmiri society is beyond dispute. The real question is why. Haris Zargar, a London based Kashmiri journalist attributes this as a counter-reaction to rising Hindu nationalism and the apprehensions in the minds of Kashmiri youth on its potential  impact on their own identity. Incidents of religious intolerance have only aggravated these concerns. The PDP-BJP coalition in the state has, in the Kashmiri’s view brought the threat of religious identity to their very doorstep. Where did the Kashmiri youth choose to go to protect identity and seek recourse? Regrettably into the waiting arms of the radicalists and on their prompt, to the streets. It is the radicalists (Ref: Combat the Protagonist Jul- Aug 16 issue) who are the catalysts of cultural and societal change that has moved the Kashmiri well away from the all-inclusive ‘Kashmiriyat’ and allowing of a rabble-rousing mob of stone pelters with young children in front to take the first hits of state response.
Pakistan’s support to these radicalists reckons amongst its planned infliction of a ‘thousand cuts’ upon India. The two most visible features of this radicalisation have been the discourse at pulpits on Friday prayers. Be it the Hurriayat or the local Mullah, the voice against the Indian State and for Pakistan is now much louder and is raised clearly with hardly any apprehensions.  
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif dedicated the festival of Eid al-Adha to “sacrifices of Kashmiris” and during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on 21 September, dubbed Wani as a “young leader” who had emerged as a symbol of the latest “Kashmiri Intifada” while calling for an independent inquiry into the alleged extrajudicial killings committed by Indian security forces in Kashmir.  Pseudo-liberals in India lent support to the separatists’ cause with opinions and views that stone-pelting does not give the police a ‘free pass’ to use force and that Wani’s had been an ‘extrajudicial killing’. The Pakistani plans are obvious – sustain the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue, bring it back under the ambit of the United nations (in short, make commitments under the Shimla Agreement infructuous) and keep the pressure on the Indian security establishment through its Jihadi agents as reflected by Uri, Pathankot and the sequence of similar prior incidents.
The options for India derive from how it chooses to tackle Pakistan’s machinations. The ‘surgical strike’ is an indicator to a new determination to take on the ‘Jihadi’ aspect head on. The Indian diplomatic outreach have also been successful in containing Pakistan’s onslaught, as reflected in cancellation of the SAARC summit.  
But it is in its strategy to assuage and restore faith in the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir that will eventually win this intense perception war for India. That is the real challenge for the Modi Government and the time has obviously come for it to formulate and implement bold, forthright ‘out of the box’ concepts, akin to the decision to cross the LOC. And India expects Modi to not just act but also deliver.
Military Affairs