Some hope for Kashmir

The situation in Kashmir is far from normal, but there admittedly is a lull in the general atmosphere of belligerence on the part of terrorists/militants as also the local youths. The mood is reflected in the statements of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Army chief Bipin Rawat Monday.

As Rawat noted, stone-pelting incidents have almost stopped and Army is by now having the upper hand in dealing with the situation. Several terrorists have been neutralised in recent weeks, and a modicum of peace seems to be returning to the harried Valley and the state as a whole in terms of mass upsurges.

There, however, is one big problem. With the kind of falsehood being propagated by the state agencies, it is becoming difficult to believe any official claim nowadays. When we are being told that the Valley has turned calm, we are forced to think that the media also has been instructed to play along.

All this is easily attainable because the alternative is to be typecast as being ‘anti-national’ and getting your heads smashed against a big black rock somewhere the back of beyond.

The army is doing a job and with serious risk to the lives of soldiers. This is not something new for any army around the globe. LoC firings have come down in recent weeks, alongside the situation in which terrorists are seen to be, supposedly, on the back foot.

In the past, let us not forget, a lull from the terrorist side meant they were re-arming, re-training and re-grouping for bigger and more deadly attacks. These repetitive acts are never taken note of by the Indian establishment which is eventually surprised by the next wave.

Reactions thereafter are condemnations, running to international forums and forgetting every problem back home. The claimed overall improvement in the scenario is palpable to only those who are involved in the activities from both sides. That this indicates a reasonably good appreciation of the need for peace on the part of the locals is difficult to ascertain as many residents of the Valley are also unaware of the true situation playing out around them.

To insist that the US administration is finally taking a strong stand vis-a-vis Pakistan and its terror leanings because of our PM Modi succeeding in impressing someone like Donald Trump is much too much reading of a nonexistent theory.

The other idea of claiming that BRICS allowing a resolution against terror on the lines desired by India has been a great achievement is also too far-fetched. BRICS was initially conceived as an economic forum of a few select nations. Forcing a political issue as a resolution may cost India dearly in the future.

Instead of zeroing in on terrorism as the sole issue, India could have, instead, tried addressing the tremendous amount of economic and trade hurdles it faces on a regular basis. Using BRICS to bolster exports and pulling down trade barriers amongst those few countries would have been a much bigger achievement for India.

Returning to the aggravation of the Kashmir situation, it must be noted that it had also to do with the flip flops of the Narendra Damodardas Modi government at the Centre. The BJP’s association with the PDP of Mehbooba Mufti in the Jammu and Kashmir government has had its fallouts.

The premature amnesty move by the state government a few months after periods of curfew and widespread stone-pelting incidents following the Burhan Wani killing sent the wrong signals to militants in the Valley. They probably believed that they could get away with their act.

Many today say that the army worked in ways as to instil fear in the local population even by resort to some controversial acts like tying a stone-pelter in front of an army vehicle and driving its way through areas of mob fury. Certain things must be made clear in the minds of people who do not live in troubled areas such as Kashmir Valley or the North Eastern states.

The Indian Army is meant to protect the borders against enemy countries whereas all federal governments, whether of the Congress led UPA or the BJP’s NDA, have used our soldiers against our own citizens. The army is meant to shoot and kill. Therefore it is shooting and killing Indian citizens.

No army, anywhere ever, has been tasked to do the impossible for such a long period of time as has the Indian army been expected to do, namely, to sort out political problems created by politicians and destroying people’s lives in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. Finally, a race or people cannot be tamed forever by instilling fear.

An effort to create fear is what the terrorist aims at, not a state run Army. There are many such points to ponder that may make one wonder if the army is the correct approach for elongated periods of time anywhere.

Therefore to claim that the Indian army has created a situation of peace by using brute force and putting fear in the minds of locals is an attempt to fool those who are not conversant with ground realities. It would be wise for the Indian army chief, like his predecessors, to abstain from shooting his mouth and making statements that do not accord him respectability.

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