Homeland Security

The Psychological Warfare in J & K
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 02 Jul , 2013

An anti-terrorist post being manned by infantry soldiers in Doda District, J&K

The militancy in J&K is a mix of violence and clever use of psychological warfare. Having failed to succeed in their designs to defeat the security forces, the militants have been trying to discredit and defame them to ultimately force them to be moved out. There are many instances of false allegations against the Army operating under difficult conditions in the militancy affected area.

Unless one assumes that the whole battalion comprised depraved officers and men, the allegation is prima facie preposterous.

According to a recent news report a group of women representing various women’s organisations has submitted a memorandum to the Defence Ministry urging fresh investigation into the alleged mass rape in village Kunan Poshpura. The reported incident dates back to 23 Feb 1991 when soldiers belonging to 4thBattalion of the Rajputana Rifles are supposed to have resorted to mass rape during night of 23/24 Feb. The allegation at that time was, ‘… that up to 100 women “were gang-raped without any consideration of their age, married, unmarried, pregnancy etc”. The victims ranged in age from 13 to 80’. Unless one assumes that the whole battalion comprised depraved officers and men, the allegation is prima facie preposterous. The case had been investigated by different agencies at that time and the allegations had been found to be false. In light of this, what is even more disturbing is the reported comment of Shri Salman Khurshid during his visit to the Valley on 28 June 2013. When questioned about this 22 years old incident he is reported to have remarked, “What can I say? I can only say that I am ashamed that this happened in my country.” In saying so the Hon’ble Minister has gone against the finding of his own government. Nothing could be sadder.

A few hard facts about the reality in J&K need recalling.  In the beginning of this year Mirwaiz Mohammad Umar Farooq had openly appealed from Srinagar that Pakistan should do something unless the ‘freedom struggle’ dies out. After that Hurriyat leaders went to Pakistan, except Syed Geelani. As per media reports they all met Gen Kayani, the Pakistani Army Chief. They undoubtedly would have met the ISI operatives too. Mirwaiz also travelled to Muridke to meet Hafiz Saeed of LeT and spent more than a day there. Yasin Malik did the same and pictures of his meeting the LeT supremo were in the media. The attempted revival of terrorism is an outcome of those efforts. A recent ambush when eight soldiers lost their lives is one of the outcomes and is unlikely to be the last act of militants. The effort to get the old allegation of mass gang rape in Kunan Poshpura reopened is a related attack on morale of the security forces. Repeated calls by some quarters for removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act fall in the same mode.

It is a strange ceasefire where Pakistan can open fire whenever they need and we keep exercising restraint

Pakistan is known to have raised combined SSG and LeT teams for activities along the LoC. All these militancy related developments have an obvious link. The adversary appears to be winning in every encounter because they are highly trained and motivated and well armed. With our LoC fences, they cannot cross into Kashmir without fire support from Pakistani posts. There has been a ceasefire in place since 2003. It is a strange ceasefire where Pakistan can open fire whenever they need and we keep exercising restraint. When we were erecting the fence, Pakistan constructed a bund in many places along the LoC. As a result their small arms fire is more effective against us vis-à-vis ours. We have to respond with mortars and artillery to equalize that, making the retaliation more visible and seemingly escalatory.

It is the start of the new ‘freedom struggle – Jihad’. The intensity would surely pick up tempo after the Western troops pull out of Afghanistan next year and more jihadis are available to operate in J&K. Our head-in-the-sand policy is not leading us anywhere. We have to see and face reality. Undoubtedly secularism is the strength of our constitution. But secular should not be synonymous with suicide.

At other times the leadership there   talks of ‘over their dead bodies’ whenever one mentions pulling the rest of J&K out of the clutches of the Valley

There is little use banking on J&K Govt to handle the situation. The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had aroused great hopes when he assumed charge. Unfortunately, he seems to have fallen prey to populism. The State political leadership remembers nationalism and patriotism only when they need free money from the ever generous New Delhi.  At other times the leadership there   talks of ‘over their dead bodies’ whenever one mentions pulling the rest of J&K out of the clutches of the Valley. Their focus remains on getting ‘strayed’ youth from Pakistan, each one with a Pakistani passport with multiple Pakistani wives and children in tow and kid gloves treatment of Hurriyat leaders and other over ground workers who are openly getting money from Pakistan and distributing it. The patriotism gets mentioned only when the State leadership crosses south of Banihal. Most of their pronouncements and actions are willy-nilly providing a boost to a new phase of Jihad.

There is a need for J&K and India to wake up before the situation in Kashmir turns more serious and gets out of hand.

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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 Raj Kadyan

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (Retd), former Deputy Chief of Army Staff

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5 thoughts on “The Psychological Warfare in J & K

  1. I guess the main problem is with Kashmir not Jammu.. When we talk about J&K state we ignore that Ladakh occupeis huge territory among jammu kashmir provinces .where no such incidents happen there because they are not bordered to pakistan nor they encourage seperatism..Govt should spend to employ youth.

  2. Dear Sir, Though the concerns expressed by you about psychological warfare by separatist is absolutely true but questions raised about Kunan Poshpura mass rape are not correct.In fact , Mr.Wazahat Habbibullah ,DC of that area of the time and CIC of India now,has verified the figure as 29 after investigation.So your questions about this incident is biased. The separatist are disappointed lot now and are in need of new reasons /source to revive the militancy. Social media has given it some impetus.
    The questions raised about CM, Omer Abdullah are also strange .He is very right in his demand to lift or dilute AFSPA.This law is often been misused by few criminal elements of army to make false encounters or kill someone for no reasons as they have done two days ago.Omer is a nationalist CM and with no bias towards Pakistan .
    When we raise questions on begging money by J&k Govt ,we forget that it was we,GoI,who has followed a myth that militancy is an outcome of non-employment or poverty.They have created huge jobs in government sector and made it a white elephant. The J&k govt has now no money to even pay to its staff. Its resources are growing at very slow speed . So it is a good that we are buying peace from money. Though this myth of link between militancy and unemployment has burst now.
    I am living in this state from last seven years and find that security forces and J&k govt are completely failed to counter conspiracy theories of separatists .They allow them to spread falsehood and conspiracy theories and never counters them .these un-countered falsehood soon become facts in J&k. But it would be always in our country’s interest to address genuine complaints and actions are required on culprits of even armed forces.You can not brush realities aside terming them as propaganda. So in my view working with transparency will fill the trust gap between army and civilians and soon the separatists will be defeated.

  3. Gen Kadyan has summarised to refresh the memory of all with the information which is already in public domain. The truth is that army has stood the test of time despite being provoked, keeping the sacnctity of democratic values and processes in tact. Please introspect, all of you, has the nation given them back their dues? Here is an extract of letter written by Kautilya to Empror Chandragupt Maurya, Quote….O king, thanks to the Mauryan Army standing vigil, day and night, in a weather fair and foul, Patliputra reposes in peaceful comfort; secure in belief that the borders of Maghda are inviolate. The day the soldier has to demand his dues…….you would have lost all moral sanction to be king….Unquote. We are also central government employees but we don’t have Unions and we don’t go on mass leave to get our dues and brow beat the government. Imagine if this was to happen, take example of recent Uttrakhand tragedy where thousands of devotees were rescued by Army. We are silent warriors, we are used to remain in back ground and allow the bureacrats and politicians to do the talking. In my three decades of army service not a single case where a guilty went unpunished, that is what we represent!! It is time we stop giving explanation to the nation, we have our task cut out, we know what we have to do in a given situation, we don’t look for outside support to accomplish our targets. There are ample examples where our officers and soldiers knew of certain death before an operation, yet, they laid their lives for “izzat and iqbal” Please don’t degrade this fine institution because of few rotten apples. There are ample opportunities in this country to sensatise the news and make loads of money, please excuse the army, you are being ungrateful to a loyal soldier. Collateral damage at times is inevitable due dynamics of operation but an deliberate act of commission or ommission never goes unpunished in the army. Let the army be as it is, it will never fail the nation.

  4. What Gen Kadyan has written is all well known. The question is

    1. What do you recommend militarily. One on LOC and another in the interior region. ?
    2. What do recommend politically in J&K
    3 What are your recommendation on Pakistan ?
    4. How do you propose to deal with USA when they continue giving all aids?

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