Maturity Displayed by Our Security Forces in Kashmir
The situation in Kashmir is simmering since 08 July 2016, the day terrorist Burhan Wani, the Commander of Kashmiri militant group of Hizbul Mujahideen was killed in an encounter with the Indian security forces. The Government of India had announced Rs 1 million bounty for finding Burhan. As days roll by and the situation in the Kashmir Valley stabilises the picture regarding the situation in Kashmir is becoming clearer. Burhan Wani was a terrorist who was known for posting videos on social media which found some appeal in the younger generation of Kashmiri Muslims. It is believed that about 30 young boys from South Kashmir were recruited in the Hizbul Mujahideen. It is reported that Burhan Wani was in contact with Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the chief Amir of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah who is located in Pakistan and possibly the master mind behind numerous attacks undertaken against India. As reported in the media three militants were hiding inside the house in Bendoora village of Kokernag in Kashmir. The Forces offered them a chance to surrender but they refused. Finally the three terrorists were killed. A decision was taken to hand over the body to the family and a funeral was permitted by the authorities to be held with a large attendance. The Security Forces did their task and obeyed all instructions to contain the situation in a calm manner.
The Pakistan Factor
Much has been reported about the widespread unrest in the valley which is gradually dying down. The Pakistan factor in the unrest needs to be analysed. As per a Press Trust of India report dated 29 July 2016, Hafiz Saeed in a rally in Faislabad, Pakistan has stated that the funeral procession of Burhan Wani was led by Abu Dujana who is the Ameer of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Further Hafiz stated that he was contacted by separatist leader Asiya Andrabi. She rang him up and asked him, “Where are my Pakistani brothers?” Hafiz responded to her request and immediately decided to send a group to Kashmir and within three days all preparations were done. Several people from Faslabad were sent to Kashmir. Apart from this there was constant guidance from the ISI to the various elements operating in the valley. The Northern Army Commander on the 17th Kargil Vijay Diwas in Drass stated unequivocally that Pakistan is interfering in Kashmir and has a direct role in the proxy war. This has been observed along the borders, where support is given to infiltrating groups. Further they have taken advantage of the internal disturbance and supported it morally and physically. Undoubtedly, the protests had their backing and funding.
The Security Forces under instructions from the Government arrested Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Gilani on 25 July 2016. He was arrested outside his residence at Airport Road Srinagar while defying attempts to move to Southern Kashmir to express solidarity with militants. He is lodged at a secure place and prevented from spreading further discord by their verbal diatribe. Other leaders arrested include Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah. With his arrest curfew was lifted from the old city of Srinagar on 28 July. There were protests, road blocks and clashes with the Security Forces, compelling reimposition.
Meanwhile the separatists have extended the shut down till 31 July 2016. This would continue for some more time till a political agreement is reached when fatigue sets in due to prolonged unrest without substantive aims. A police statement on 29 July 2016, described the situation as peaceful and under control. Overall the Security Forces have to handle the situation with skill and dexterity. They have to enable normalcy to return by proving to the militants that they would not be able to break the law and get away. Viewing daily reports one is observing that gradually this would happen.
The Security Forces with their skill and dexterity have got the situation under control. The problem being a political one needs active engagement by politicians of all parties as also the Central and State Government to communicate and find a way in the current juncture. With the SAARC meeting of Home/Interior Ministers coming up in Pakistan on 03 and 04 August 2016 which is to be attended by our Home Minister Rajnath Singh, it is likely that there would be security stability enabling communication corridors to open thereby easing tension.
It is pertinent to focus on the need to continue AFSPA until a Joint Committee can assess the situation has normalised in parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Viewing the recent handover of communications between the four terrorists and their Pakistani handlers in the attack on Pathankot airbase by the US Government, it would be premature to remove the provisions without carefully analysing all details. It is to the credit of our Government that AFSPA stands removed from Mizoram and Tripura. Overall the people of Kashmir are witnessing the violence in areas of Pak Occupied Kashmir due to possible rigging during the elections held in the State recently. Overall the situation will continue to demand vigilance and effective missions by our Security Forces in the Border and the hinterland of the Kashmir region.
The situation in Kashmir is gradually improving and soon curfew will be relaxed in a calibrated manner based on methodical assessments by our Security Forces. The maturity displayed by our Security Forces post 08 July 2016, deserves to be commended. At the same time, they must continue to be vigilant to counter hostile elements.