“If you do not have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy” – Alvin Toffler
There are individuals and groups of socio-political inclinations in many parts of the country who profess different interpretations of freedom, autonomy and even the nuances of post-independence national integration into the present Indian Union. Existence of avowed secessionists, separatists or assertive autonomists in the Kashmir Valley therefore is neither unusual nor a calamity.
The core ‘Kashmir for Pakistan’ fanatics found power and money to execute their long cherished ‘liberation’ of Kashmir – by the only method they subscribe to: through bloodshed.
Matters however started to approach the danger mark in the run up to the botched state elections in 1987 when these anti-national activists found a larger audience to subvert and then convert to their ideas. Of course, they did not have to exert too much because most of the Kashmir Valley people, even when usually nonchalant over the issue, were not averse to go independent or even joining the Islamic State of Pakistan. Thus just over the course of few years, this larger audience of young professionals, university teachers and students, political hopefuls and even loose cannons of the society found their cause for autonomy, merger with Pakistan or independence as they saw it.
Just across the Line of Control, Pakistan and Pakistan ruled areas are made up of constituencies of avowed claimers of Kashmir – in fact the entire state of J&K. The extremist core among these constituencies, in keeping with their pre-independence trait of “lar ke lenge Pakistan” (‘will take Pakistan by force’ – a Muslim League slogan) has ever been geared up for the fight – jehad, of sort – to ‘liberate’ Kashmir, as its merger with Pakistan is described.
With Afghanistan subjugated into ‘Muslim rule’ and hoards of hardened fighters as well as younger ‘fighters-in-waiting’ rendered desirable no more, these extremist groups found their instrument of attack in the late 1980’s. Viewed as the next step towards achievement of the global ‘Muslim cause’, funds flowed in from oil rich Muslim nations as from the Ummah elsewhere.
The core ‘Kashmir for Pakistan’ fanatics thus found power and money to execute their long cherished ‘liberation’ of Kashmir – by the only method they subscribe to: through bloodshed. Earlier on two occasions, the Pakistan state had failed to wrest Kashmir through overt and covert warfare; now was the time for it to launch its non-state fighters, duly backed up with state patronage, to achieve that end.
Mere thousand rebels-for-profit have usurped the face of 69 lakh citizens of just six districts the Kashmir Valley. False propaganda, rhetorical lies, cognitive contamination and poisonous insinuations have been crafted into the narrative that chokes the Valley.
In little over half a decade, a deadly concoction was built up. Obviously, the cause of congruence was in being Muslims – just that, otherwise there was nothing to evince attractiveness of Pakistan ruled areas. Pakistan based Mujahedeen fighters, well equipped and rewarded with good money, infiltrated the Kashmir society to feed upon the local secessionist or separatist factions. The ‘hosts’ being rather unmilitary in their deportment, most of the attacks upon the State was executed by these ‘guest’ fighters, with the adventurers among the local activists playing the ‘understudy’ role. Funds were also available to wean away or buy up the mufti-mullah-maulvi-madrassa class and orient their religious discourse towards anti-national, anti-Hindu proclamations.
Thus over the next two decades, the entire Valley was subverted. The young blood found it elating to pretend as propagators and agitators for ‘freedom’, ranks of the indigenous extremist factions swelled and the active understudies of violence turned into militant insurgents on their own right under the mentorship of middle-age Pakistan rooted Mujahedeen. Flow of funds reached huge proportions.
As the reluctant public turned sympathetic, sporadic hit-and-run attacks interspaced with well choreographed stone pelting, women screaming, false agitation, banal demonstrations, even insulting troops and provoking them – all these events video recorded for more propaganda – turned into an industry. Mere thousand rebels-for-profit have usurped the face of 69 lakh citizens of just six districts the Kashmir Valley. False propaganda, rhetorical lies, cognitive contamination and poisonous insinuations have been crafted into the narrative that chokes the Valley.
Today, as P Chidambaram stated, “India has lost Kashmir”. Even if the comment is but exaggerated and defeatist, he should know – his party was governing the nation most of these years.
By our soft and appeasing, rule-bound and democratic, and autonomy and hands-off policy, we have stoked a blazing situation in the Kashmir Valley.
Well, it is less disconcerting and even lesser dangerous that such a situation has found its ground in the Kashmir Valley. India has borne the worst and has prevailed yet. What however really shakes the citizen’s faith in those who govern the Republic that the situation was allowed to grow slowly and with deliberate anti-nationalistic fervour over a long period of a quarter of a century – no less – while the entire state apparatus stood ineffective if not in outright stupor. That disconcert proceeds to overwhelm the common Indian’s conscious when it is found that all this while when the pyre of nationhood was being erected, the powers-that-be were counting legislative seats and courting a self-serving local leadership for them to do their bidding to keep the Kashmiri people’s faith on the idea of India.
Thus through a second-hand relationship with its Kashmiri citizens, nationalism was being bargained against pandering to rabble-rousers. Proxy relationship thus bred the ‘proxy war’.
By our soft and appeasing, rule-bound and democratic, and autonomy and hands-off policy, we have stoked a blazing situation in the Kashmir Valley. That raging fire requires extraordinary fire-fight for it to be doused before the nation is vivisected again – and again, till India of the 18th Century haunts.
No responsible country – including Pakistan and China – cites idealist platitudes in dealing with such a grave situation. We should take cue and declare a war on anti-nationalist rebellion. Of necessity, it will first be the astutely professional application of hard power to recover the situation. This may begin with overwhelming deployment and temporary dislocation of people to round up those thousand militants even if it means casualties among the troops and militants, put them in preventive custody, treat them forgivingly and free them to be self-rehabilitate.
Civilised dialogue and political initiatives may then find the centre stage. ‘Such hard actions have not borne the desired results’, the cautious and the naysayers would suggest. But most of the times these indeed have worked. The tendency to procrastinate under such banal excuses needs to be set aside in this extraordinary time. No initiative, no experiment, no recourse is unadoptable in nationalist cause.
Let not there be another ‘Himalayan (or Kashmiri) Blunder’.