Kashmir needs the army, not sermons from liberals, to wipe out jihadis

Good-governance and restoration of Kashmiriyat are keys to the peace and prosperity of Kashmir, not talking to the Islamist separatists.

Prakash Nanda July 21, 2016 15:44:55 IST
Kashmir needs the army, not sermons from liberals, to wipe out jihadis

Do you remember what our so-called liberals were recommending when Punjab was literally burning during the Khalistani agitation? Had the then Punjab director general of police KPS Gill listened to these liberals, dominating our think tanks, universities and national media, Khalistan perhaps would have been a reality by now! Similarly, if we go by the recommendations of these liberals for Kashmir now, it will become the surest way towards the country’s disintegration.

Kashmir needs the army not sermons from liberals to wipe out jihadis

Indian Army in action. PTI

What do these liberals say? For them if Kashmir is in turmoil, it is precisely because of the unholy alliance between the BJP and PDP in the state at a time when a man called Narendra Modi is India’s Prime Minister. For them, whatever we are seeing today in Kashmir has nothing to do with terrorism and fundamentalist Islam. In fact, under the influence of these liberals, some important national dailies have now even stopped using the term “terrorists” altogether; instead, they now prefer to use the word “militants”.

As I have already written in this forum, Kashmir’s present woes are essentially because of the diminishing phenomenon of “Kashmiriyat” based on the “Sufism”, the principal feature of the Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. Sufism talks of coexistence with, not total domination over others as propounded by the fanatic Wahabism, financed by Saudi Arabia and implemented by Pakistan in Kashmir. The disturbing elements in Kashmir are essentially Islamists, not freedom fighters that they claim to be. Just see the videos of the speeches of any Hurriyat leader to realise this point.

Pakistani journalist Kunwar Khudune Sahid brilliantly wrote the other day in The Nation, one of Pakistan’s leading dailies, that Burhan Muzaffar Wani, whose killing on 8 July triggered the present bedlam in the valley, was “the offspring of the global jihadist movement that emerged in the last quarter of the previous century, hammering Muslim-majority freedom movements into Islamist struggles wherever the occupying force was ‘non-Muslim’– including Palestine, Kashmir and East Turkestan. And the problem with any Islamist ‘freedom’ movement is that it intrinsically contradicts the very idea of freedom."

It is a huge myth that Kashmir will be normal once the government starts dialogue with the separatists. The then prime minister Manmohan Singh had held three Round Tables with all the stake holders in the valley. He had set up five working groups as a result of the round table initiative, including one on Centre-state relations. But when things were to be implemented, came the stone-throwing incidents in 2010, inviting police retaliations that resulted in 112 deaths. In fact, that time, there was some genuine reason for the eruption of the crisis - the Indian Army claimed to have killed three "Pakistani infiltrators" but it was later revealed to be a case of a fake encounter. But this time, there was no such reason – the security forces killed Wani, a known terrorist. Besides, the forces have demonstrated exemplary restraint – the death toll, though unfortunate, is at 43 at the time of writing.

Admittedly, both Central and state governments have displayed their limitations in tackling the present crisis. It is highly debatable whether the body of Wani should have been handed over to his relatives for burial to provide the Islamists the grand opportunity to demonstrate their force. Besides, there has been a great intelligence failure. But this should not distract us from the fact that the present government by the PDP-BJP alliance is the best that could have happened to the state.

As late chief minister Mufti Mohammad Syed had said in an interview to another Pakistani newspaper The Dawn, “The BJP got 25 seats from Jammu in the Assembly Elections. I think ignoring this mandate will be a mistake. The BJP also got a nationwide mandate in the 2014 Parliamentary Elections. I believe it is important to respect the mandate and form a government which is inclusive and takes into account the interests of all three distinct regions viz Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. In my view, the partnership with the BJP is an excellent opportunity to reconnect people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh with each other. This alliance could be a paradigm shift in Kashmir’s political history and reduce regional tensions. Internationally too, the PDP-BJP alliance is a message of our diversity.”

Good-governance and restoration of Kashmiriyat are keys to the peace and prosperity of Kashmir, not talking to the Islamist separatists. The latter need to be dealt with as sternly as possible, not pampered as they are now with crores of rupees spent on their security and health. And for this, the state needs judicious use of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), not its total withdrawal as demanded by our so-called liberals.

The AFSPA is a special provision envisaged by the country’s Parliament. It is meant to be used in these two extraordinary circumstances – secessionist violence and internal disturbance. The Act is applicable to the armed forces (including the paramilitary), not the general police personnel. Only when the latter, working under normal laws, are not able to take control of the situation and armed forces are called into the service, does the AFSPA come into relevance. It provides the armed forces the power to arrest those suspected without warrant, search their places and fire upon, even causing death, those who are acting in contravention of “any law” and those “in assembly of five or more persons” or those who are in possession of deadly weapons.

Obviously, there are conditions attached in the AFSPA and soldiers/officials violating these can always be prosecuted. In fact, available data with me suggests that since 1990, the security forces have been accused of 1,511 cases of human rights abuse. All of these were thoroughly investigated, including by the National Human Rights Commission. A total of 1,473 cases were found to be completely false and had been possibly instigated by terrorist organisations. Where culpability was established, 104 soldiers, including 40 officers, have been punished in 35 cases so far.

But critics question why the armed forces are immune to acting under normal laws such as no searching without warrants and no firing without the magisterial order. The answer is very simple. If the armed forces cannot do anything on their own and need civilian clearance during their operations, how will be their effectiveness different from that of the normal police and paramilitary forces? And if that is the case, where is the need to call them?

As it is, armed forces have been consistently pointing out that they are not interested in managing internal security. So, those opposing the AFSPA should vent their anger not against the armed forces but the political or civilian leadership, which is summoning them to do the job that is supposed to be done by police and paramilitary forces. If you do not call the army, there is no need for AFSPA.

It is true that by its very nature, any extraordinary or anti-terrorism law is bound to affect some “individual rights” – such as liberty of the individual, privacy, autonomy and freedom among others. But their being invoked is necessitated for “public welfare”. All told, terrorist attacks are, fundamentally, an assault not on individuals or on the liberty of individuals, but on the security and welfare of the people as a whole. And since the fight against secessionism and terrorism is not a normal fight, one has to appreciate the need to transcend the excessive individualism that the blind champions of human rights suggest.

Contrary to what the habitual army-bashers say, if Kashmir continues to be with India and if any organisation that the ordinary Kashmiri, as distinct from the separatist, is most comfortable with, then it is the Indian Army. In the process, the Army has made tremendous sacrifices, both in terms of men and material. Abrogating the AFSPA or removing some of its key provisions in an attempt to make it ‘humane’ could place the Army (and other security forces) at a great disadvantage in their fight against a vicious insurgency that has now religious overtones. Any watering down of the Act will result in de-motivating the troops whose lawful actions may expose them to decades of litigation in civil courts.

Let us be proud of our armed forces. They need to be encouraged and strengthened, not maligned at.

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