BJP-PDP alliance ends in Kashmir: State now needs dynamic governance, 'Operation All-Out II' to curb unchecked militancy

The inevitable has finally happened; the BJP has pulled out of its alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has resigned. BJP's general secretary Ram Madhav said in a media briefing on Tuesday: "It has become untenable for the BJP to continue with the alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. Terrorism, violence and radicalisation have risen and fundamental rights of the citizens are in danger in the Valley. Journalist Shujaat Bukhari's killing is an example. Given the security situation, and the need to handle the situation, we feel Governor's Rule was necessary."

Meanwhile, BJP's 11 ministers in the state government resigned after meeting BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi.

The BJP and PDP came together following a hung verdict in 2015, albeit it was clearly a marriage of political convenience. For BJP, it was about getting a foothold in the state government, even though the PDP had allegedly come up with the support of Hijbul Mujahideen and Pakistan-based Syeed Salahudeen – the Hizbul chief was waging terror attacks in India in tandem with the LeT and JuD.

 BJP-PDP alliance ends in Kashmir: State now needs dynamic governance, Operation All-Out II to curb unchecked militancy

Kavinder Gupta along with Governor NN Vohra and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

In fact, Mufti Muhammad Saeed (Mehbooba's father) had publicly thanked Pakistan for his election win, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi sitting next to him. Certain actions of Mehbooba too gave rise to the suspicion that her underhand links with Hizbul and other terrorist organisations were active.

For example, amnesty to hundreds of stone-pelters timed with major terrorists/anti-terrorist actions, inaction in apprehending and prosecuting leaders masterminding stone-pelting, inaction against raising of Pakistani and Islamic State flags, lodging of FIRs against army personnel, permitting public funerals of terrorists killed as platforms to incite violence by terrorists in plain view, unchecked radicalisation by clerics and politicians, and even through school textbooks.

The recent Ramzan ceasefire itself was a bad decision that wiped out gains made of having 200 terrorists killed under Operation 'All Out'. The logic, "Giving Peace A Chance", was absurd since radicalisation continued unabated, the administration remained mute and terrorists could easily regroup with security forces directed not to undertake operations.

The Union government either got carried away by Mehbooba's pleadings or did not have the expertise to evaluate what the result would be even after two CRPF personnel were stoned to death in Srinagar in April. The logic that the number of youth joining militancy would reduce was illogical, given the radicalised environment. The PDP had no incentive for curbing militancy considering the enormous largesse it was getting in terms of grants from Delhi vis-à-vis rest of India, in addition to money pouring in for jihad from within and from abroad.

Not only was amnesty being granted to stone-pelters periodically (cases against 9,730 withdrawn in February 2018 alone), 115 criminals were released from jail on the eve of Eid under the pretext that they were not jailed for "serious offences". But the jails themselves have become radicalisation centres, as was discovered during raids, where even minor criminals can be motivated to pick up the gun.

The daily visuals on TV showed anarchy on the streets. BJP should have actually pulled out from the alliance in the rise in militancy post the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani, which indicated underhand links of Jammu and Kashmir politicians with terrorist organisations. Apparently, it took the killing of Bukhari to force BJP's decision.

Questions are being asked about what happens now, with the imposition of Governor's Rule. Will the gloves come off? When will elections be held? What changes can be forecast?... and the likes. With the coalition having lapsed, there sure is political uncertainty but logically, Governor's Rule should continue till the time a measure of stability is reached in the four-five volatile districts in Kashmir.

Will the gloves come off? – not really, because the army operates in a set of rules that respect human rights and avoid collateral damage – unlike counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations by foreign forces and within their own country by Muslim nations, including Pakistan. But certainly, stone-pelting and display of Pakistani flags should not be permitted and measures will need to be instituted to eradicate such incidents using all possible means.

Bukhari maintained the problem is political. Mehbooba had sacked her Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, who had said Kashmir is not a political issue but a society which has social issues. Actually, it is a mix of both, the social issues too becoming important with unchecked radicalisation, the increase in the number of indigenous militants on the beck and call of ISI directly or through proxy terrorist organisations. If the gloves are to be off, it will be in the political arena – with vultures circling the prey; call it another coalition, mahagathbandhan, or whatever.

What Jammu and Kashmir requires now is 'Operation All Out-II', to bring the level of militancy to required levels; good governance – in synch with empowering the lowest level – Panchayats; move Hurriyat separatists out of the state and progress cases against offenders; monitor and deal with clerics and politicians spreading hate; effective blocking of funds and weapons for militancy; stop public funerals of terrorists killed – preferably they should be burnt at one designated place since terrorists have no religion; break the PDP/NC-terrorist linkages, prosecuting political leaders where charges are proved; review text-books and education program to detect and eliminate spread of religion-based hatred; institute a vibrant de-radicalisation program, reviewed for effect periodically; chalk out and announce an employment generation program linking it with the youth giving up violence; cut out disproportionate fiscal largesse to Kashmir, giving reason, and make Kashmiris feel they have to work; consider fiscal allocations separately for Ladakh and Jammu; put into motion return of Kashmiri Pandits under armed escort of a militia force, comprising security forces veterans and volunteers; make voting by military compulsory as authorised by the Election Commission, and; create a special administrative wing of military veterans to inject efficiency in administering Jammu and Kashmir.

It is for the government to take a call on placing a dynamic governor in the state, considering the present incumbent has been overseeing the deterioration of the situation. And finally, it is high time the irregular war is carried into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which should be topmost priority of the NSA.

The author is a veteran lieutenant-general of the Indian Army.

Updated Date: Jun 19, 2018 19:15:19 IST