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180 days of Kashmiri freedom movement in 2018


July 18, 2018

More than 180 days of the year 2018 have passed and so did the Indian Army’s efforts to tackle the freedom movement in the held Valley. The following is a brief look at their tactics and the results achieved during the above-mentioned period.

The Indian Army’s strategy to quell violence in the Valley rests on blaming Pakistan for the indigenous movement. The forces are told that immediately behind the borders, India has strengthened itself and is very well prepared but Pakistan has gone the other way and picked up soft targets. The Indian troops are being told the government spent Rs364 crore to beef up the security of soft elements on the LoC. The effort made is on claiming that Pakistan is on the receiving end and the Pakistani civilian casualties across the LoC are presented as those of troops.

Evidently, the Indian forces are in pro-active mode after the Uri incident. The hard-line iron-fist strategy to finish off militancy in the state by killing as many alleged militants as possible and killing civilians instead is being implemented. The announcement of a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on May 15, 2018 has failed to dampen the spirits of Kashmiri Mujahideen, who are retaliating. A former RAW chief has admitted on record: “They are no longer hiding. School girls and women are coming out to throw stones. The Kashmir situation has never been so bad.”

The Indian Army is prioritising security of small camps in vulnerable areas and those which need immediate attention but the Mujahideen attacks on them continue.

The Indian public has been told that the Indian Army has dominated the adversary i.e. the home-gown Mujahideen. This is false.

The top Indian Army leadership remains confused. Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat's had categorically warned the Kashmiri youth: "Don’t get carried away unnecessarily. Why are you picking up weapons? We will always fight those who seek azadi, those who want to secede. Freedom is not going to happen, never." But recently, in an interview, Rawat, stressing on talks to establish peace in Indian-held Kashmir, said the recruitment of local Kashmiri youth by militants could not be controlled. “Talks must happen. The issue is that a lot of locals are joining militancy. We kill them and more would join. Infiltration can be controlled, but this cycle of recruitment of local youth can go on and on. So…let’s give peace a chance and see.”

On the other hand, the Indian Army maintains its policy of suppressing the number of actual losses in the Valley from the public. Occasional admissions do tell us that all is not well. Moreover, the local recruitment of Mujahideen is on the rise.

Governor’s rule has been imposed in the Valley to further quell the violence but it is not working.

Indian sources admitted that more civilians are being killed mostly in the crossfire in densely populated localities. “In 2014, 32 civilians lost their lives, 20 in 2015, 14 in 2016, a whopping 57 in 2017, and 36 in the first five months of 2018,” admits a report.

The army continues its efforts to boost the morale of troops in the Valley. They are being presented with medals and citations for jobs done or not done. Still suicides among the troops are on the rise.

Former Indian home minister and finance minister P Chidambaram summed up the situation in the Indian Express that there was an undeclared internal war going in occupied Kashmir. Chidambaram said, “The king will never raise the sword against his own people. With great sorrow, it must be admitted that there is an undeclared internal war in the Kashmir Valley.” The senior congress leader also admitted that New Delhi was adopting muscular, militaristic approach to quell dissent which has pushed the Valley to the brink of disaster. “Violence and death are on the rise.”

Thus, Indian Army's boots-on-the-ground strategy is not working in the held Valley. Meanwhile, the Burhan Wani legacy flourishes.

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