Abu Dujana killed: Executing terrorists, crackdown on Hurriyat is fine, but BJP-PDP differences dilute effort

Abu Dujana's neutralisation has followed the predictable script in Kashmir. The Hurriyat has called for a complete shutdown, the state government has blocked mobile internet services and refused permission for a funeral procession with Dujana's body. However, though the script remains the same, this time there is an important deviation.

From January till 31 July, Indian security forces have neutralised 116 terrorists in the Valley, up from 92 in the same period last year. The figure includes former Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Dujana and his accomplice. The government is also going hot after Hurriyat, arresting separatist leaders in cases linked with hawala channels, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-sponsored terror network and corruption. There is a sense that the Indian state means business, and it believes that peace will only be achieved through the restoration of law and order in the Valley.

Mehbooba Mufti and Narendra Modi. Reuters/PTI

Mehbooba Mufti and Narendra Modi. Reuters/PTI

We shall explore the plausibility of this approach, but a short context of the Kashmiri unrest is in order. For too long, the "will of Kashmiri people" has been invoked as an excuse to subdue normalcy in the Valley. The Valley's residents did not descend from Mars. Their will cannot be all that different from the will of other citizens. They just want to get on with their lives. Unfortunately for the ordinary, faceless, everyday Kashmiris, "getting on with their lives" is a luxury they have long been denied.

It is easy to put the blame entirely on Pakistan — and they are culpable — but a measure of responsibility for the instability should also be placed at India's door. The Narendra Modi government, in its bid to clean up the Valley of terrorists and choke their funders, is up against a Frankenstein fed by Pakistan but created in an Indian lab. And as always, the motive was political. The compulsion to create political assets in Kashmir led to twisted policies, muddying the vale's still waters and inviting Pakistan to start fishing. Former RAW chief AS Dulat, for instance, has revealed in his book how the Hurriyat has been funded by the Centre.

In his column for The Times of India, IVLP fellow and Srinagar bureau chief of State Times, Ahmed Ali Fayyaz writes about the way Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was given a long rope by Delhi to peddle the brand of soft separatism that has poisoned India's relationship with its only Muslim majority state.

Mufti's "brief tenure as Union home minister witnessed a fringe insurgency explode with the release of JKLF militants in exchange for his kidnapped daughter Rubaiya in 1989, followed by Kashmiri Pandits’ mass migration in 1990. His outcry over the Ghulam Nabi Azad government's allotment of land to a Hindu shrine board divided people irretrievably on regional and communal lines in 2008, when secessionism had ebbed and the Valley was blooming with tranquility."

The competitive anti-Indian rhetoric in the Valley that we see today traces itself to this inflection point in Kashmir's history which Pakistan has since been happy to exploit. Rawalpindi khakis have bred, nurtured, trained and armed generations of "freedom fighters" driven by the revanchist notion of lost inheritance. But if these imported terrorists are increasingly being accepted as "freedom fighters" within the Valley, it is because the mainstream political parties operating in Kashmir have created the fertile ground for such an acceptance.

It is also the reason why Pakistan's intelligence-jihadi network of late has been able — through its agents, terrorists and Hurriyat lackeys — to transfer some of the insurgency to local youth. This is the reason why a Burhan Wani or Abu Dujana's death sparks unrest in a Kashmir which showed not even a fraction of this outrage over the killings of much bigger separatist leaders.

As the NIA cracks down on the Hurriyat's source of illegal funding, the biggest protest against Centre's move has come from NDA's own ally, the PDP. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has called the arrest of seven Hurriyat leaders an "administrative decision". "NIA arrests do not solve any problems.... We have seen so many allegations being made against separatists leaders over the years but nothing has happened. It's good they're being held accountable but this doesn't help solve the real issues," she said.

A report in Times of India said that an officer of the Jammu and Kashmir Police was threatened with arrest when he tried to prevent the NIA from taking Hurriyat leaders into custody.

This isn't an isolated approach. Mehbooba had earlier called for "unconditional dialogue" against Hurriyat leaders despite the discredited Pakistani lackeys holding the Valley to ransom for an extended period and making the lives of citizens miserable.

The National Conference is trying to distance itself from Hurriyat, but its leader Omar Abdullah had advocated last year that Mehbooba should release all Hurriyat leaders in detention.

Meanwhile, the NIA has unearthed an elaborate scam through Line of Control (LoC) trade where Pakistani goods are sold at triple the market price and resultant funds are channeled into terror networks. Interestingly, Mehbooba has refused to comply with NIA's request to shut down the scam-ridden LoC trade network and has instead declared that more such trade routes will be opened, as reported by The Hindu.

An NIA dossier, accessed by News18, reveals "that Pakistan’s ISI and LeT have been in touch with most of the separatist leaders in the state. It says that the top leaders of Hurriyat acquired funds sent through hawala channels and under the guise of cross-LoC trade to finance protests over the last one year." The report also says that Hurriyat leaders hire stone-pelters at a sum of around Rs 500-Rs2,000 on a daily/weekly basis and park the surplus illegal cash in properties.

Little wonder that choking of these channels of funding has seen a dramatic drop in stone-pelting incidents this summer. CRPF chief Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar said this week that while 1,590 incidents of pelting were officially recorded last year. The number has fallen to 424.

The Centre clearly has a problem. While it believes that a tough measure against terrorism and busting Pakistan's patronage of the Hurriyat will eventually lead to restoration of law and order in Kashmir leading to peace, its actions are being simultaneously undermined by own ally in the state. The Modi government is right in diagnosing that the first step towards reestablishing the state's writ in Kashmir is to dispel the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that terrorists and separatist leaders have spread in the Valley. Fear keeps voters away, leading to Hurriyat claiming victory for the "secessionist movement".

To break this vicious cycle, the Centre needs to show equal resolve in fighting terrorists and respecting ordinary Kashmiris. However, strains in the PDP-BJP alliance are damaging the prospects of normalcy. Unless that is addressed, peace will remain elusive.


Published Date: Aug 02, 2017 06:04 pm | Updated Date: Aug 02, 2017 08:36 pm


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