Editor's note: This piece was first published on 19 July, 2016.
The numbers are stacking up in Kashmir. Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Rajya Sabha on Monday that there have been 566 reported incidents of violence from the Valley. About 43 civilians have died, while 1,948 have suffered injuries. Though 1,744 of them have been discharged, 204 are still receiving treatment. Among the security forces, 1671 have suffered injuries while one has died.
Since the minister's speech in Parliament, two more protesters have died when a violent mob attacked an army patrol in Qazigund area of Anantnag district, taking the overall toll to 45 since 7 July, the day Hizbul Mujaheedin commander Burhan Wani was eliminated by security forces in a gunfight.
Meanwhile, the curfew entered its 12th day in 10 affected districts of Kashmir. Internet is largely inaccessible, mobile services shut, cable TV is blocked while newspapers have failed to hit the stands for the fourth day. Mehbooba Mufti government, however, has clarified to Union I&B minister Venkaiah Naidu that no gag order is in place.
Petrol pumps and ATMs are running dry, mounds of garbage are piling up with municipalities unable to clear trash.
As the elected government goes missing in action and administration collapses, in a repeat of the scenario when the Hurriyat ran a de facto parallel government for five months during the 2010 street agitation, separatists Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik and JKLF have called for a fresh three-day shutdown in the valley.
China, which holds on to a disputed 5,180 sq km in Ladakh sector and calls it Aksai Chin, has jumped in. Lu Kang, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, has said China was concerned about the casualties due to violence in Kashmir and have called for proper settlement of 'clashes'.
Pakistan, whose stated intention is a 1000-year war with India on Kashmir, has again raised the issue in United Nations, calling for a "UN-backed independent and transparent inquiry" into the "extra-judicial" killings in Kashmir. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called terrorist Burhan Wani a "martyr" and has called for 19 July to be observed as 'black day'.
How has the BJP-PDP coalition government responded so far?
While Home Minister Rajnath Singh gives all the impression of living in a cocooned ivory tower, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has failed to take charge.
As terrorists fan the flames of unrest, non-state actors like Yasin Malik brew the cauldron with provocative speeches and Pakistan funds and instigates violence as part of its proxy war, the BJP-PDP government lies completely exposed as an impotent, unsure, powerless and weak administration which is happy to let security forces carry out the firefight while mouthing platitudes from the sidelines.
There is no space for doubt that we are in the middle of a full-blown war. The cry for 'azaadi' in Kashmir (with recent, deeply worrying Islamist overtones) is a jihad foisted on us by Pakistan. They have, after long last, finally managed to outsource the battle over India's territorial rights to a section of local Kashmiris.
This significantly raises the stakes because we stand to lose both the war over territory and the battle of perception if we aren't careful. Pakistan can afford to crush dissent mercilessly in the part of Kashmir occupied by it because it has no reputation to protect. India, which is seen as a responsible, rising power, must tackle insurgency and protect its sovereignty all the while being mindful of the fact that at the other end of the barrel lie its own citizens.
Is the BJP government at the Centre and the coalition at the state being able to do that?
India Today quotes an Intelligence Bureau report which has revealed that every year almost Rs 100 crore is being channeled from Pakistan to Kashmir through hawala channel to create trouble in the state. The funds go straight to separatists who distribute it among young men to take part in protest rallies against security forces. Stone-pelters, funded by the separatists, are being used as a human shield by trained terrorists who are targeting the security forces during protest rallies.
Pakistan's ISI, says the IB report, recently held a meeting with Hizbul supreme commander Syed Salahuddin and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed for illicit fund transfers and to appoint four new 'commanders' to fan trouble in the valley. The meeting also saw the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammed commander Abdul Rauf, who is based in PoK.
It's not even a secret any more. A video of Hafiz Saeed’s Urdu speech has surfaced on social media. The terrorist says that "after Burhan’s martyrdom and the martyrdom of many others, I expect the jihad in Kashmir will rise with strength. The scene will change completely."
Unless we dismiss the intelligence report as a "lie" and believe a section of the Indian media more who claim that the Kashmir unrest is "completely vociferous", it stands to reason that the BJP-PDP government must move swiftly to tackle the battle on the streets as well the propaganda war.
Problem arises when the centre's own coalition partner speaks in forked tongue and endorses Pakistan's view that the elimination of terrorist Burhan Wani was an 'extra-judicial' killing.
As many as two PDP leaders – MP Muzaffar Baig and minister Naeem Akhtar – have sought a probe into Wani's killing. These comments not only run contrary to India's stated position that there could be no compromise on terror, they also serve to demoralize the security forces that are fighting daily aggression on the streets.
And even as PDP MLAs are bent on embarrassing the Centre and undercutting its efforts in containing the violence, the Home Minister tells Firstpost's Ajay Singh in an interview that "Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is doing an excellent job and her popularity is growing."
That the PDP, which faces an unprecedented crisis, would resort to this isn't surprising. Crucially, it seems the BJP is ready to forego India's stated Kashmir policy and its own ideology at the altar of power.
Updated Date: Jun 19, 2018 14:37:40 IST