Homeland Security

The Mess in the Valley – playing into enemy hands
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 06 Jun , 2018

If Pakistan broke the ceasefire within 48 hours of their DGMO proposing it, this should have been more than expected. Two BSF jawans were killed and 12 civilians and a cop killed, while thousands have been affected. The euphoria over the fact that the suggestion for ceasefire came from the side, some attributing the reason to Pakistan being in dire straits financially, others saying Pakistan is wanting peace because of the FATF meet in coming June, was not just naïve but pathetic.

And why would Pakistan not keep slapping us repeatedly when: we don’t know how to handle stone-pelters even when they ‘stone to death’ security forces personnel; the mantra is ‘restraint’ with politicians hiding behind layers of security; we announce ceasefires during Ramzan which no Muslim country fighting insurgence does; we are now back to wanting talks with Hurriyat; a former James Bond (obvious ISI stooge) who praises Pakistan in his book, suggests inviting Pakistani Army Chief for talks, and; while we want to resolve issues between Israel-Palestine, Saudi Arabia-Iran and Israel-Iran, a coherent policy to sort out the increasing mess in the Kashmir Valley is nowhere in sight.

The suggestion by Pakistan of ceasefire was obviously to lull the us into complacency, in order to catch persons in open when multiple locations get targeted; causing maximum casualties. Yes, there will be retaliatory fire from our side and casualties caused will be publicized, without citing source of such information. But that is all we will do, aside from the usual verbal warnings that must be creating much humour in Pakistan. Yes there will also be statements like “we will give / have given free hand to security forces”. How much free-hand is given to security forces is for the world to see – scoot in face of stone-pelters or get killed. Were two CRPF personnel not stoned to death at Lal Chowk, Srinagar in April? What can be more shameful for the Home Minister to treat such  incidents as run of the mill?

Ever heard of Pakistan declaring ceasefire in Balochistan, SWAT, FATA during Ramzan, or for that matter any Muslim country combating insurgency-terrorism; Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria? But we say we did in the past, so we will compound our follies? The release of Masood Azhar during the IC-814 hijack displayed weakness and utter impotency in not stopping the aircraft at Amritsar. It cost us plenty lives. Now our pathetic response to stone pelters is not only causing casualties (death and injuries) but is hitting the psyche of the security forces. Yet the politicians both in the State and Centre are busy counting votes because they and their wards are safe from stone-pelting. The weakness shown in the Valley in effectively dealing with stone-pelters, caused the police in Madhya Pradesh to face similar situation. In time, this will spread to other parts of India.

The Ramzan ceasefire when announced in J&K as ‘conditional ceasefire’ received plaudits from various quarters. The PDP and the NC were jubilant. There were write-ups by the ‘paid’ media, those aligned with Pakistan, even some known to be seeking governmental favours. Semantics were played around: no, this is not ‘ceasefire’; security forces will NOT lose their edge in any manner; it won’t affect operations on the LC; it will deter youth joining militancy, and the like. Refuge was taken behind the term Non-Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO) coined by US forces; forgetting US forces aren’t combating insurgency on US territory and hardly affected by regrouping of terrorist during NICO because post NICO they can get back at them with vengeance without fear of collateral damage. It was conveniently obfuscated that whether ‘conditional ceasefire’ or NICO, it means cessation of ‘cordon and search operations’ and ‘search and destroy operations’, resulting in regrouping of terrorist outfits.

The myth that youth will not join militancy during Ramzan ceasefire already stands shattered with security agencies warning recruitment of local youths into terrorist groups has crossed 81 this year (20 during May 2018); which included in outfits like ISIS-Kashmir and Al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. But another 16 are absconding including brother of an IPS officer of J&K who may have jointed terrorist outfit – taking overall number to 97 including 36 in May. Compare this to the figure of 131 in 2017 – which was the highest in anyear so far.

Mehbooba Mufti, J&K CM has achieved this without firing a shot – making the HM, NSA and PM look like fools. Hundreds of stone-pelters have been unleashed by Mehbooba, with J&K Police mute spectators. Is she not directly responsible for not apprehending who is funding and orchestrating the stone-pelting movement? Given the established PDP-HuM linkages, based on which the PDP won elections, she appears to be taking systemic revenge for the killing of HuM’s Burhan Wani whether by design or default.

The basic problem in the Valley is that of radicalization and unemployment. How much the PDP and NC are complicit in it needs little elaboration. The radical talk by clerics and politicians in multiple forums including mosques particularly on Fridays is inciting youth. The incident on June 1 post prayers in Jama Masjid, Srinagar is just one example – CRPF gypsy attacked with stones and rods, even a cycle thrown on the vehicle, the driver panicking and in a bid to get away trampling two stone-pelters, of which one later died. Can the Home Minister explain why the CRPF is not adequately equipped to counter stone-pelters?

In 2014, DRDO publicized successful development and testing under simulated conditions (both by day and night)nof two variants of short-range Portable Laser Dazzlers (PLD) especially suited for counter insurgency operations; the hand-held and squad weapon mounted versions of PLD have maximum operating range of 50m and 500m respectively. Both variants are completely non-lethal and produce randomly flickering green laser output sufficient to cause temporary dazzling effect and have in-built safety / interlock features against unauthorized use.  With four years gone by why are PLDs not with the jawans?

From the looks of it, the J&K government is doing nothing for de-radicalization aside from telling the security forces to talk to the youth. Besides, where is the dialogue along with an employment generation road-map that Mehbooba needs to convey to the youth rather than letting stone-pelting become a profession? This should be her bread and butter rather than asking the PM and the HM to talk to the youth. But the reverse appears to be happening. Pakistan successfully ethnically cleaned Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley using the Abdullah.

The next aim appears to be the exit of Dogras from Jammu region using Mehbooba – her actions of forest rights and radicalizing Bakarwals, and dealing with Rohingyas are indications. About time the Centre wakes up, rather than focusing on elections alone. The Gidar Bhabhki that if required ‘surgical strikes’ can be repeated doesn’t scare Pakistan. The requirement is to ‘transport’ this war from our territory across the border. The Afghans are ready for but in our case the political will is absent. As for ‘emperor’s clothes’, actions on ground don’t impress in the least.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

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