Kashmir terror funding: NIA raids on conduits were long overdue, but are inadequate

Saturday morning’s raids at the houses of Hurriyat leaders and businessmen who deal in hawala funding of agitations in Kashmir were long overdue. Even now, the government owes the country an explanation for why the conduits that fund trouble — ranging from demonstrations to armed attacks — were not squeezed earlier.

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

The tragic fact is that these raids might be like slamming shut the stable door after the horse has already bolted. As a result of all the agitations, narratives and discourses that various funders promoted over the past decade, the fire of jihadi determination has been lit and has spread in the generation of teenagers who were at the forefront of last year’s uprising.

Some of those who were raided are said to have done much damage, not just a decade ago but even over the past couple of months. For instance, one of the business groups raided was a key organiser of a cricket competition for Kashmiri teams in Dubai earlier this year.

Much of the brains-trust which has collectively shaped the minds of Kashmir’s teenagers was taken there for those matches. Discussions could have been held on the sidelines of the games. It would be interesting to know who paid for the junkets.

Too little, too late

The generation now in the field is under the age of 25, most of them teenagers. Putting the squeeze on established funding routes at this stage is unlikely to dampen the enthusiasm of these teenagers. There will at best be a brief dip in their momentum.

Those highly motivated boys do not need much money to keep at it. Enough money is available in small contributions from across the Valley. And foreign powers will probably have little trouble bringing fresh hawala conduits, expatriate transfers, over-invoiced export payments, and small or big direct money transfers into play.

A decade late

The horrendous violence that lies ahead could have been avoided if those in power had cut off this sort of funding a decade ago. Tragically for the nation’s future, several covert agendas have been in play.

Even squeezing funds a decade ago would not have been enough by itself. A multi-pronged plan of action was urgently required. Those in power needed to urgently improve the education system in Kashmir, and ensure responsive, efficient, clean governance.

The aspirations of the youth revolved around dignity, justice, and responsive administration. All they got from the previous Union government was a bunch of corruption-ridden, inefficient and extortionist recruitment and admissions programmes.

Instead, they installed the cynical, corrupt and exploitative Omar Abdullah government for six years from 2009. Several of the carpet-baggers who have been involved with funding and instigating trouble in various ways also had close links with key figures in the state government.

More is required

The process by which some of those who were raided on Saturday got loans and rescheduled, or even managed write-offs from the cash-rich Jammu and Kashmir Bank ought to be probed. Open or benami business partnerships too need to be investigated.

The kinds of figures that get various kinds of lucrative contracts and jobs from government and government-run organisations have often raised eyebrows among those who are aware of the links of these beneficiaries.

The dividing line between 'separatist' and 'mainstream' in Kashmir is extremely slippery. An extensive conflict economy has come up over the past three decades, and a vast array of forces — including some of those charged with ensuring national security — have developed stakes in this sordid and messy business.

A distressing aspect of Saturday’s raids was that they were selective. Only one aspect of that selectivity was that several key Hurriyat leaders, including some of the most prominent, were not raided. Leading figures from several professions were ignored.

To argue that these would be investigated in future rounds was disingenuous. For, after decades of an unchecked free run, this round of raids has warned all concerned.

Given the comprehensive demonetisation for which the Union government opted when it wanted to push a digital economy in November, a more comprehensive round of raids should have been child’s play.

Updated Date: Jun 03, 2017 20:19 PM

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