Homeland Security

Need to act swiftly and decisively on J&K
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By B Raman
Issue Net Edition | Date : 21 Oct , 2010

The situation in Jammu & Kashmir is going from bad to worse. The widespread acts of violence on the Eid day and the outburst on September 13, 2010, in the wake of baseless rumours of insult to the Holy Koran in the US make one apprehend that we may reach a point of no return if we do not address the anger of large sections of the youth.

Fifteen people, including a member of the security forces, were killed in different incidents on September 13 — the largest number in a single day since the present trouble broke out over three months ago.

The situation has so badly slipped out of control that one does not know how to retrieve it. “¦ Even now, the Governments of J&K and India give the impression of a total lack of lucidity in analysing and assessing the situation.

The anger is a reality. It will be totally unwise to close our eyes and ears to it. It will be suicidal to think that but for instigation by Pakistan the anger might not have acquired such dimensions. The origin of the anger and its gradual escalation were due to mishandling of the situation by the State Government and by the confused response of the Government of India to the situation as it has developed.

Pakistan and the jhadi organisations based there are now exploiting the anger caused by perceptions of our insensitivity to violations of human rights by the security forces. Deaths of some Kashmiris in an alleged false incident involving the security forces and the total inaction of the Government in the face of repeated demands for enquiries into the deaths of young Kashmiris due to use of force by the security forces against stone-throwing mobs have led to a resurgence of the alienation of growing sections of the youth.

The incidents of September 13 show two strands of anger. The first is against the Governments of J&K and India due to the perceived violations of the human rights of the Kashmiris. The second, which made its first appearance in the incidents of September 13, is directed against the US because of a threat, which had emanated from a pastor with insignificant following to burn the Holy Koran on the anniversary of 9/11. He gave up his threat under political and public pressure in the US, but not before he had provided fresh oxygen to the jihadi elements in the Islamic world.

To what extent the anger of the Kashmiris against the US was spontaneous and to what extent it was instigated by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements based in the Af-Pak region? It is difficult to answer this question, but one has to note with some concern that the anger against the US seen in the streets of Srinagar on September 13 was part of the pattern one had been seeing in the last few days in the Af-Pak region ever since the pastor issued his threat.

We had seen similar anger against the US in the streets of Srinagar when US troops invaded Iraq in 2003. That too was part of an orchestrated pattern seen in different cities of Pakistan. But the anger subsided after a few days. Will it subside similarly now? One has to keep one’s fingers crossed. It is important to note and deny promptly and effectively all rumours being disseminated from the Af-Pak region by Al Qaeda, the Talibans and their affiliates regarding insults to Islam.

One should remember there was an escalation in violence in J&K in the days and weeks before the visit of President Bill Clinton to India in April 2000. We should expect a similar escalation in the period before the forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to India in November. There is a strong possibility that the kind of violence that one has been seeing since the Eid day, which is different from the kind of violence that one had been seeing before Eid would be sought to be kept up till the visit of Mr. Obama.

The violence before Eid was largely spontaneous. The violence since Eid is increasingly orchestrated and inspired from outside — inspired not only by the State of Pakistan, but also by all the jihadi organisations based there.

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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

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

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