Reasons to Rebel

They call it operation ‘Calm Down’. In plain language it is the massive manhunt by the army in league with paramilitary and local police forces. For ordinary Kashmiris it is the hell they could expect in the coming days. The unrest broke out after Wani’s killing on 8 July is unlikely subside no matter whether they deploy 4000 additional troops or more into service to restore what they call normalcy. The security establishment says they have given clear instructions to use minimum force. But how the persons in uniform obey instructions while dealing with agitationists and peaceful protesters is known to all. For one thing New Delhi continues to blame it on Pakistan for escalation of violence in Kashmir. But this time reports from different quarters confirm that home-grown militancy is actually gaining ground.

Whether they like it or not current militancy in the Kashmir Valley is predominantly local. Unlike earlier years, the majority of the active local cadres of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba have not crossed the Line of Control for arms training. The Valley militants are either self-trained, or given basic training in the Valley. Srinagar and adjoining Budgam are the only districts, with negligible militant presence or local recruitment. Militants operating in South Kashmir are predominantly local though the military authorities maintain that around 100 militants had crossed in South Kashmir in recent months. The Hizbul commander Burhan, from Tral headed only one such local module. Hizbul does not have any non-local militants in its ranks. Lashkar, whose operations are run by Pakistanis, has also shifted to local cadre, especially in South Kashmir, covering Kulgam, Budgam, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Anantnag and Shopian districts. Foreign militants especially those belonging to Lashkar, are concentrated along the LoC, in Kupwara district. The South Kashmir districts and the areas along the LoC in Kupwara are active militancy theatres. The Baramulla–Sopore–Bandipore–Ganderbal belt is silent, despite substantial militant presence.

Eight CRPF personnel were killed and 21 others critically wounded, when terrorists rained bullets on a bus, carrying them to Pampore, near Srinagar, on 25 June 2016. The security bus was returning after a firing exercise to Srinagar. It was ambushed by two terrorists who were coming from the opposite side, at Frestbal, 14 km from Srinagar. The militants were killed by the Road Opening Party (ROP) of the CRPF. They appear to be Pakistanis from the Lashkar group. Between January 2016 and September 2016, infiltration has surged to 56, compared to 53, for the same period in 2015. Almost every shoot-out and grenade explosions by militants in Kashmir Valley, is followed by subsequent action of claiming credit for eliminating the militants. Security failures lead to blame games, played out to the nation on TV channels, with senior representatives of the army and para-military security forces. Meanwhile, Burhan’s pictures had flooded Facebook and WhatsApp, and his escapades had assumed mythic proportions. As a fall-out of the shooting down of militant commander Burhan, Kashmir from the second week of July 2016, was shaken by widespread mob violence and clashes, which left over 100 people dead, and 6000 including 96 security forces personnel, injured. Curfew was clamped across the Valley, and mobile and internet services were suspended. And yearly Amarnath Yatra too was suspended.

The Centre always protrays the North East as a showcase of militancy and insurgency, as if people in those ‘disturbed’ areas would like war, not peace. No doubt the Naga insurgency is the oldest in the region. But negligence shown towards Nagaland and other areas seems to have reached mythical proportions which no mainstream party focuses in their political campaign, albeit ‘development packages’ for NE are frequently announced by Government functionaries. One can guess the extent of development they carry out in the most volatile state called Nagaland.

Nagaland has no electricity power plant of its own, and has to depend heavily for supply from Manipur and Assam. Despite the Central Government’s generous grant of funds to the special category state, there is little development. The only sugar mill at Dimapur has closed down. A cement factory nearby is under lock and key. Many schools outside Kohima and Dimapur are closed, because of non-availability of text books. Hundreds of students are appearing in examinations, without having seen text books. The number of teachers, students in the hills have to walk long distances to reach their schools. Many teachers conduct classes under trees. Schools do not have toilets, nor facilities for drinking water.

On 08 July 2016, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Army cannot use excessive force duing counter-insurgency operations, in areas decleared disturbed under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, and criminal courts do have the jurisdiction over cases of alleged excesses by security forces. The apex court added that Manipur was not faced with an unconventional war-like situation. And yet about 1528 persons have been killed by the Manipur police and security forces since 1978.

Vol. 49, No.12, Sep 25 - Oct 1, 2016