Kashmir stone-pelter tied atop jeep: Incident may mark a turning point in India’s response to hybrid warfare

There is plenty of commotion about the alleged stone-pelter Farooq Ahmad Dar tied atop the bonnet of an army quick reaction team (QRT) jeep. Of course, he claims he is innocent, and that he is not a ringleader of stone-pelters. He even claims that he was beaten up at an army camp without any reason and that he saw women being beaten up. It is surprising that his allegation of women being dragged and beaten is without photographic evidence – how did the ISI slip on this one?

Screengrab from video. Courtesy Omar Abdullah's Twitter handle

Screengrab from video. Courtesy Omar Abdullah's Twitter handle

Incidentally, such unconventional methods have also been used by the Israel army in the past. One should also read this article in The Telegraph and see how Israeli army deals with stone-pelters. Do the so-called pro stone-pelters want Indian Army to adopt these methods? Israel also has a law of two-20 year imprisonment for stone-pelters. And here we have the media hollering that "The army is caught in a tight spot" because of this? Actually, it is the ISI and terrorists who find themselves in a tight spot, for should this becomes standard procedure, how would they progress the stone pelting campaign?

Surprisingly, many who objected to how Dar was treated have absolutely nothing to say about the security personnel getting mobbed, kicked and slapped by droves of terrorist-supporters-cum-stone-pelters. They also have little to say about the death sentence to Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court.

There is no doubt the ISI would try to reap maximum benefit from the Dar episode. What is appalling is the way some military veterans are treating this whole incident with one former soldier even going to the extent of recommending the officer responsible be made to face a court martial.

These guys through their military service have preached ‘to fight a guerilla, one must become a guerilla’, but when it comes to dealing with terrorists, they want ethics of Mahabharata? The question for them is between certificates of sainthood for the army and saving lives on both sides (army and civil), what is their choice? If it is the former, then there is nothing more to discuss. But what actually has been done to Dar? Was he crucified, aimed or disabled for life? The fact is that the officer responsible used this unconventional method to save a very ugly situation ‘without loss of lives and property’, which needs to be commended at the highest level.

The incident relates to the police booth at Budgam which was attacked on 9 April, by a mob of stone-pelters, chucking rocks at the ITBP and Jammu and Kashmir Police to prevent voters from casting their votes. The ITBP personnel on duty realised that they would not be able to get out alive and called for army help. When the 17-strong army QRT arrived, they too realised they were outnumbered. The commander of the QRT decided it would be bad to open fire and escalate tensions, despite the fact that rescuing the men inside was important. He caught the alleged stone-pelter Dar, tied him on to the jeep and drove past the mob of 900, saving the ITBP and J&K Police personnel and his own boys.

What we fail to acknowledge is that the turmoil in the Kashmir Valley is no ordinary Pakistan assisted insurgency. It has transformed into a vicious hybrid war backed by the China-Pakistan unholy anti-India nexus. While we were fixated with Burhan Wani, we failed to notice that the level of violence has gone up exponentially since China’s strategic lodgment in Gilgit-Baltistan. It is not a coincidence that Chinese flags surfaced in Kashmir Valley. Connect the dots of Chinese support to Naga and ULFA insurgencies and you can realise what is systematically creeping upon us. China remains in the background with China-Pakistan together exploiting our fault-lines assisted by the enemy within India. China’s concept of 'unrestricted warfare' includes means of biochemical, guerilla, terrorism, psychological, smuggling, drugs, virtual, media, ideological, besides others. Pakistan abides by the ‘Quranic Concept of War’ scripted by Brig SK Malik in 1979, which explicitly justifies the use of terrorism. That there are no rules and no regulations in hybrid warfare needs no emphasis.

In 1986, Islamist terrorists kidnapped four Soviet diplomats in Beirut and demanded Moscow’s support for pro-Syrian fighters in Lebanon. With no Soviet response, terrorists killed one of the kidnapped diplomats. So the KGB kidnapped a family member of the Hezbollah leader, castrated and killed him, and sent his body parts in a package to the Hezbollah leader with a note saying that his other family members will meet the same fate. The three remaining diplomats were released immediately. Then there is a narrative of General John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing who captured 50 terrorists in the Philippines, had 49 shot with bullets dipped in pig blood and freed the 50th to narrate the horror, resulting in no terrorist attacks for next 25 years. Why President Donald Trump mentioned and denied this incident in a pre-election rally was perhaps for vote-banks.

In early 2000’s Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani, passing close to a divisional headquarters in Kashmir Valley requested to meet the divisional commander (name withheld). Since it was lunchtime the General asked him to join him for lunch. After lunch, Geelani was explained the jurisdiction of the division with the General quietly telling him that if during his tenure there were any IED blasts or terrorist attacks in his area, what would happen to Geelani or his family members could hardly be predicted. Needless to mention the General enjoyed his quiet command. It is a different story that later this ISI stooge was buttressed by both India and Pakistan and given a free hand to radicalise the youth, adverse results of which we see today. Finally, how we treat the alleged stone-pelter Dar episode could well be a turning point for India’s response to hybrid warfare. Hope better sense will prevail.

The author is veteran Lt Gen of Indian Army.

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Updated Date: Apr 16, 2017 09:23:21 IST

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