View: Thousands are still waiting for the dawn of a new era in the Kashmir Valley

The blunder of taking Kashmiris for granted that Pakistan committed in 1965 was repeated by India in 1987 by rigging assembly elections. Kashmiris realised that their fate is decided by Delhi and not by their vote. India ignored the Pakistan facto...

By Avinash Mohananey

Kashmir faced most brutal kind of terrorism even before it had acceded to India. On October 22, 1947, large tribal hordes armed and supported by Pakistan crossed over to the state from Kohala near Muzaffarabad. They indulged in killings, rape, looting and arson on local inhabitants irrespective of the religion to which they belonged.

Thereafter Pakistan had been on lookout for creating trouble in Kashmir and keep the pot boiling. Pakistan could not find the required opening even when protests erupted in the Valley after arrest of Sheikh Abdullah on August 9, 1953. Its presumption that Kashmiris will revolt against India while launching operation Gibraltar in 1965 went awfully wrong. Pakistan had misread the protests in the Valley in December 1963 and thought that the situation was ripe for uprising against India.

The blunder of taking Kashmiris for granted that Pakistan committed in 1965 was repeated by India in 1987 by rigging assembly elections. Kashmiris realised that their fate is decided by Delhi and not by their vote. India ignored the Pakistan factor at its own peril. Pakistan grabbed the once in a lifetime opportunity offered on a platter to take revenge for its humiliating dismemberment in 1971. Cumulative anger over the years in Kashmir spilled out on the streets creating an ideal breeding ground for terrorism.

Pakistan provided to Kashmiris what they lacked, weapons and arms training. The regional and international situation favoured such brazen approach by Pakistan. Around that time, the USSR had been compelled to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Pakistan created a new theatre of violence in J&K. But it could not sustain this policy for long. Under immense US pressure, Pakistan finally agreed to stop cross border shelling in November 2003 and prevent infiltration after meeting between prime minister AB Vajpayee and Pak president Parvez Musharraf in January 2004.

The infiltration dipped significantly and consequently the violence. The border went quiet. There were no ceasefire violations from 2004 to 2006. The security environment changed in Kashmir. A record number of tourists and Amarnath pilgrims visited the state. Elections witnessed large scale participation and festivities.

Movement of Kashmir towards peace was disrupted by us only. Congress’s electoral considerations in Jammu led to Amarnath land row in 2008. Similarly, our inability to take timely action against culprits of Machhil fake encounter triggered widespread protests and stone pelting in 2010.

Later, while voting during assembly elections in 2014, Kashmiris had not bargained for an alliance between BJP and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Rather, PDP leadership had assured the people that vote for their party would ensure that BJP will be out of power. The outcome was just reverse.

As BJP unravelled its Hindu nationalist agenda in rest of India and in Kashmir, the anger multiplied. This was amply reflected in 2016 protests and jump in local recruitment of local youth. The growing social acceptance and eulogization of those joining terrorist ranks even by their parents remains the most worrisome aspect of the security situation till date.

On the contrary, J&K police is patting its back by claiming that it had killed about 150 terrorists (88% local) in first seven months of this year as compared to about 130 in the same period last year. One must remember that statistics is like a script which one can read from left to right or right to left. This data only confirms ongoing local recruitment in the overall backdrop of anger. The large number of casualties of local militants are due to their being ill equipped and untrained.

Our capacity to create trouble in Kashmir for ourselves remains undiminished. August 5, 2019 changes are a step in that direction only. Country has paid a huge price in terms of loss of lives and spending of scarce resources for what political leadership did in 1987 assembly elections. The long-term ramification of what was done on August 5, 2019 are unfathomable at present. But be sure they would be grave. The coming generations will have to pay the price for the same.

It is time that our political leadership corrects its perception that separatism and terrorism in Kashmir were because of Articles 370 and 35A. We can’t underplay the role of Pakistan. The “dawn of a new era” that the prime minister promised on August 8, 2019 can’t be seen anywhere. Yes, the new era of progress and prosperity can come in Kashmir, if we allow this self-inflicted wound to heal rather than causing it to bleed more.

Read the first part of the series: Early to rejoice absence of upsurge after revocation Article 370
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of
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