The latest and among the most heart wrenching images coming out from Kashmir, which went viral on the social networking sites, is the picture of grief-stricken, five year old girl, Zohra, as she tries to touch the coffin of her slain father. With a stark, pain-stricken look on her face and tears trickling from her innocent eyes, Zohra tries to call out to her father, 59 year old Assistant Sub Inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Abdul Rashid, who was killed by terrorists in Anantnag on 29 Aug 2017.
Sh. S S Pani, the Deputy Inspector of Police (DIG), reacting to the picture of grieving Zohra, wrote on his Facebook wall, “Your tears have shaken many hearts…every drop of your tear sears our heart.” The DIG summed up the anger and grief of the people of the Valley at this senseless killing of a policeman who posed no threat to any one and was in fact only few years away from his retirement from the Police Force.
The killing , coming on the heels of the attack by Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) militants on the Police Lines at Pulwama, a few days earlier, which resulted in the killing of eight CRPF/ local Policemen, has increasingly brought into the focus the frustration of the militants and their masters sitting across the Line of Control. It is apparent that the militants, rendered incapable or ineffective by relentless operations launched against them by the security forces, particularly in south Kashmir, have chosen to hit at soft targets; unarmed policemen at traffic check posts, like in the case of Abdul Rashid, or Police lines housing families of police men consisting of women and children or those guarding bank premises, etc.
During the past year or so it had become apparent that militants have adopted a strategy reflecting dimensional shift in their strategy. Deliberate targeting of local policemen was not part of their operational strategy earlier. However, things have changed since. Killing of Lt Umar Fayaz on 9 May, 2017, and mutilation of bodies of SHO of Achhabal Police Station, Foroze Ahmad and six other policemen killed in an ambush in Kokernag on 16 June 2017, lynching of Deputy Superintendant of Police, Mohammad Ayub Pandit outside Jama Masjid on 22 June 2017; (incidentally, on Islam’s holiest night, Shab e Baraat), followed by the killing of many other local policemen, indicates that red lines in the Pakistan-sponsored militancy have vanished. A Kashmiri is now as much an enemy as other security forces.
Whereas the shift in the strategy of militants is clear as day light, what surprises every Kashmiri is the deafening silence of the separatists and their camp followers in the Valley over such killings. They behave as if it is not Kashmiri blood that is being spilt. Geelani and his ilk, and his unabashed supporters like Engineer Rashid, do not miss an opportunity to condemn security forces whenever they see even the slightest violation of human rights ( whatever that means); but here, when such brutality on the part of militants results in the gruesome killing of local policemen , some of whom were not even armed, these very Azadi seekers or Pakistan’s proxies in the Valley, turn a blind eye to such gross violations basis human values against their own people. This contradiction in their stand was aptly summed up by Sh. Javaid Gillani, IGP of J&K Police, who, while condemning the killing of Abdul Rashid, asked as to how such killings could lead to ‘Azadi’? Further, he questioned the separatists and their intellectual cronies over the waste of these precious lives.
The fact of the matter is that the separatists, on the dictates of Pakistan, induced a cult of violence in Kashmir in late eighties without visualising its long-term consequences. They were only interested in its short term gains as they saw them; these included the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir and the killing of pro-India elements within their own community. They did not give any thought to the long term ill effects that turning a generally peaceful Kashmiri society into a violent society would entail in the long run. More importantly, they did not give a serious thought to the very idea of what ‘ Azadi’ would look like, leave alone its international ramifications.
Whereas, during the decolonization period post WW II, many nations became independent, it also gave rise to sub-national movements within these independent nations based on ethnic, linguistic and other factors. However, after the initial surge, these movements eventually lost steam, either because, over a period of time, these sub nationalities came to wield political and economic power themselves, or because the newly independent nations accommodated their varied aspirations to as great an extent as possible, thus empowering then substantially. Unfortunately in Kashmir, despite India having accommodated the local sentiments and their political and other aspirations to a very large extent, Pakistan succeeded in exploiting the Kashmiri religious sentiment during a period which saw Islamic resurgence in many regions of the world.
Though Kashmiris of all hues have paid a huge price for preferring gun to a political dialogue, the separatists and their coterie have paid little price at personal level. Neither their children ever picked up the gun, nor did they live a life that most Kashmiris had to live; that of difficulties and hardships, that of finding themselves between the rock (militants) and a hard place (security forces).These people lived luxurious lives, being fed by both India and Pakistan. Over a period of time, they came to own huge assets, while the ordinary Kashmiri continued to suffer enormously due to the cult of violence introduced in Kashmir by the same very people.
As is apparent, the separatists’ whole strategy hinged on Pakistan’s ability to wrest Kashmir from India. They played their part by radicalising Kashmiri society and inducing/motivating/ compelling them to support the Jihadis by all means possible. Beyond this, the separatists did not have the wherewithal to lend any other support. Pakistan had its own limitations, which Kashmiri separatists could not see through. After 9/11, Pakistan found it difficult to convince the world that Kashmiri struggle was not part of international Islamic Jihad. Its deep involvement in Afghanistan through various Jihadi organizations that it patronizes, further took its focus away from Kashmir. Militarily, it was never even Pakistan’s case that they could ever take Kashmir from India by force.
Lately, Pakistan, having been rebuffed by the U.S., has embraced China firmly. The latter, by constructing CPEC through Gigit-Baltistan has sent a message to India that China is firmly with Pakistan as far as the latter’s claim on Kashmir is concerned. However, on ground, it is unlikely to help Pakistan much, since international geo-political considerations will compel various countries to take sides depending upon how they see the developing situation impinging on their core interests. Besides, as long as India is militarily and economically strong, China-Pakistan combination is unlikely to change the ground situation in any manner as far as India is concerned.
In the light of this developing situation and the changing international political dynamics, what choice do the separatists, their camp followers and Kashmiri Awam have ?
Let all of them take a call !