Curb­ing Mil­i­tancy and Ter­ror­ism in Jammu and Kash­mir

Mil­i­tancy is gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with politico-so­cio-eco­nomic prob­lems but in the case of J&K, the Pak­istan fac­tor (now fully backed by China) out­weighs all other fac­tors


Mil­i­tancy is gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with politico-so­cio-eco­nomic prob­lems but in the case of J&K, the Pak­istan fac­tor (now fully backed by China) out­weighs all other fac­tors.

Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd)

AF­TER OVER 100 DAYS of vi­o­lence post the killing of Burhan Wani, Jammu & Kash­mir, par­tic­u­larly South Kash­mir, is some­what limp­ing back to­wards nor­malcy. Pak­istan was wait­ing to stoke the fires and used the trig­ger of Wani’s death. Iron­i­cally, by de­fault or de­sign, the Me­hbooba Mufti-led J&K Gov­ern­ment played into the Pak­istan’s In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence (ISI’s) hands; just four days ear­lier, some 634 stone-pel­ters were granted amnesty and re­leased from jail. This, de­spite the fact that when jail­ing them there was clear ev­i­dence they had been in­dulging in stone-throw­ing on be­hest of the ISI. Sig­nif­i­cantly, Is­rael has passed leg­is­la­tion that caters for min­i­mum three-year jail term for stone-pelt­ing and ces­sa­tion of state ben­e­fits for such in­di­vid­u­als. Then came the phase of stone-pelt­ing mobs at­tack­ing se­cu­rity forces, at­tack­ing and ran­sack­ing po­lice sta­tions and loot­ing weapons with po­lice de­sert­ing at many places and even­tu­ally, the army de­ployed in South Kash­mir to es­tab­lish the rule of law in the face of un­prece­dented and com­plete loss of ad­min­is­tra­tion and state con­trol. These stone-pel­ters com­prise un­em­ployed youth who are re­port­edly be­ing paid ₹ 500 daily for vi­o­lent acts. Pak­istan had a field day launch­ing a dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign to in­cite the youth, even dis­tort­ing the ef­fec­tive sur­gi­cal strikes in­side the Pak­istanoc­cu­pied Kash­mir (PoK) un­der­taken by In­dia in re­sponse to Pak­istan-spon­sored at­tack on the army base at Uri. The Hur­riyat sep­a­ratists were fully ex­ploited by the ISI to cre­ate in­sta­bil­ity, and this con­tin­ues to date. As the last count, the num­ber of schools burnt or ran­sacked in J&K has reached 34 un­der the ISI dik­tat, even as cease­fire vi­o­la­tions by Pak­istan con­tinue un­abated. The fact that a very high num­ber of chil­dren ap­peared in the re­cent ex­ams de­fy­ing Hur­riyat’s boy­cott call was per­haps one of the best things that has hap­pened in re­cent times.

The Pak­istan Fac­tor

Mil­i­tancy is gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with politico-so­cio-eco­nomic prob­lems but in the case of J&K, the Pak­istan fac­tor (now fully backed by China) out­weighs all other fac­tors. Adop­tion of the wa­habi-salafi cul­ture in Pak­istan has been in­sti­tu­tion­alised in Pak­istan past sev­eral years. Pervez Hoodb­hoy, nu­clear physi­cist at Qaid-e-Azam Univer­sity, Is­lam­abad, wrote in 2008, “The pro­mo­tion of mil­i­tarism in Pak­istan’s schools, col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties has had a pro­found ef­fect on young peo­ple. Mil­i­tant ji­had has be­come a part of the cul­ture in col­lege and univer­sity cam­puses, with armed groups invit­ing stu­dents for ji­had in Kash­mir and Afghanistan”. It is this same wa­habi-salafi cul­ture that Pak­istan has been able to in­duce in the Kash­mir Val­ley, grad­u­ally but con­sis­tently, us­ing cler­ics and Huri­iyat sep­a­ratist lead­ers — in­fil­trat­ing trained ter­ror­ists, arms, narcotics and money. In­sis­tence of our in­tel­li­gence agen­cies over the years that Hur­riyat sep­a­ratists are “ir­rel­e­vant” has helped Pak­istan’s ISI. ISIS and Pak­istan flags were be­ing waived and hoisted pe­ri­od­i­cally dur­ing Fri­day prayers and dur­ing anti-In­dia ral­lies with­out any ac­tion against any in­di­vid­u­als and Hur­riyat sep­a­ratists were vis­it­ing and get­ting briefed by Ab­dul Ba­sit at the Pak­istani High Com­mis­sion. Pak­istan there­fore prac­ti­cally had a free hand to wage psy­cho­log­i­cal war to in­flame the youth of J&K.

It is an open se­cret that mil­i­tants in J&K are be­ing fi­nanced by China and Chi­nese have es­tab­lished huge con­trol over Kash­miri sep­a­ratist lead­ers. The re­cent dis­cov­ery of Chi­nese flags from ter­ror­ist hide­outs in Bara­mulla and ap­pear­ance of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army of China (PLA) sol­diers on Pak­istani posts on the line of con­trol (LoC) pro­vides fur­ther ev­i­dence of China’s ne­far­i­ous de­signs. China sup­ports Pak­istan’s anti-In­dia ji­had and the fact that Pak­istan con­tin­ues to link the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan with Kash­mir with­out any ba­sis what­so­ever, in­di­cates Pak­istan will con­tinue to stoke the fires in J&K to the best of her abil­ity. This also helps di­vert at­ten­tion from the in­sta­bil­ity within Pak­istan.

Ter­ror Fund­ing and De­mon­eti­sa­tion

In­dia’s per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the UN, Syed Ak­barud­din re­cently told the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly that Pak­istan has pumped in some ₹ 60 crore into J&K for ter­ror­ism. But then look at the way In­dia has been pam­per­ing the Hur­riyat sep­a­ratists, which any self-re­spect­ing coun­try would never do. Ear­lier, the Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA) re­ports of 2013 re­vealed that Kash­miri ter­ror­ist groups had re­ceived $100 mil­lion for ter­ror op­er­a­tions in past two years, over the past 10 years some ₹ 600 crore were di­verted to J&K ter­ror­ism from within In­dia, some ₹ 98 crore were di­verted in one sin­gle year from the J&K Af­fectees Fund, and that the J&K Af­fectees Re­lief Trust (JKART) has been fa­cil­i­tat­ing Pak­istani in­fil­tra­tion into J&K. Be­sides, goods sent through trucks to PoK were in­ten­tion­ally over­priced two to three times in the vouch­ers and ad­di­tional money re­ceived was di­verted for ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions. It is un­think­able that J&K politi­cians did not get share of this..

Un­der the NIA Act, the NIA can take over any case re­lated to ter­ror suo motu ex­cept in J&K where it needs the state gov­ern­ment’s per­mis­sion be­fore it can start any in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Last year, J&K Gover­nor N.N. Vohra had sug­gested that the Ran­bir Pe­nal Code be brought un­der the NIA Act, but whether this has been af­fected is not known. So, ter­ror­ist fund­ing in J&K ap­par­ently is eas­ier than the rest of In­dia, even though trans­ac­tions of some ₹ 38 crore from 17 ac­counts in four banks of South Kash­mir were un­der the NIA scan­ner in Au­gust last year for sus­pected ter­ror links. Why we con­tinue to pam­per the sep­a­ratists is also a mys­tery. Ac­cord­ing to 2015 me­dia re­ports, the J&K Gov­ern­ment spent over ₹ 506 crore on Hur­riyat sep­a­ratist in last five years in­clud­ing travel, ho­tel stay and meet­ings with Ab­dul Ba­sit and his co­horts at Delhi. In ad­di­tion, the Cen­tre re­port­edly spent around ₹ 7,207 crore on se­cu­rity re­lated is­sues — and Hil­lary Clin­ton once ac­cused Pak­istan of breed­ing snakes in the back­yard!

De­mon­eti­sa­tion has brought rel­a­tive peace to J&K, for what­ever pe­riod of time, be­cause the sep­a­ratists are un­able to pay daily stone-pelt­ing wages to their ‘street gangs’. But sig­nif­i­cantly the po­lice have re­cov­ered not only fake ₹ 100 notes but also ma­chines owned by lo­cal crim­i­nal gangs for print­ing fake cur­rency. So if ₹ 100 notes too are be­ing faked, then these could be used for stone-pelt­ing, even if the num­ber of ‘em­ploy­ees’ re­duces. Be­sides, pay­ments re­ceived via hawala are gen­er­ally never traced, as per po­lice of­fi­cials. Ad­di­tion­ally, pro­duc­tion of fake In­dian cur­rency in Pak­istan is in gov­ern­ment mints. No mat­ter which pa­per and ink used in the new

₹ 2,000 and ₹ 500 notes, these be­ing faked by Pak­istan at a fu­ture date can hardly be ruled out. Chi­nese as­sis­tance to Pak­istan in fak­ing our new cur­rency notes can also be taken for granted, be­ing within am­bit of the Chi­nese con­cept of ‘Un­re­stricted War­fare’.

Gov­er­nance Deficit

Ge­orge Fer­nan­des as De­fence Min­is­ter once ar­riv­ing at Srinagar was in­formed that a large crowd had gath­ered at Bara­mula and was chant­ing “Azadi, Azadi”. In his charac- ter­is­tic style, he de­cided to drive down with min­i­mum se­cu­rity to meet the crowd. The crowd grew restive on sight­ing him and the shouts got louder. He lis­tened to them for some­time be­fore rais­ing his hand to in­di­cate he wanted to speak. He then told them, “Ha­men bhi azadi chahiye” (we also want free­dom). There was stunned si­lence hear­ing the De­fence Min­is­ter say so. Fer­nan­des then am­pli­fied “Ha­men bhi azadi chahiye cor­rup­tion aur beroz­gari se” (we also want free­dom from cor­rup­tion and un­em­ploy­ment). Now the ques­tion is which gov­ern­ment in J&K has ad­dressed un­em­ploy­ment, made ef­forts to in­dus­tri­alise the state; de­fined a roll on plan to cre­ate jobs, ex­plained to youth sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment es­sen­tial for in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion in or­der to cre­ate jobs and ar­tic­u­lated con­di­tions and un­em­ploy­ment in PoK and rest of In­dia ver­sus con­di­tions in J&K. Sure Val­ley youth want em­ploy­ment but then Maoists too pasted posters (on July 20, 2016) de­mand­ing em­ploy­ment for lo­cal masses, si­mul­ta­ne­ous to trig­ger­ing bomb blasts at the un­der-con­struc­tion Con­sta­ble Train­ing Cen­tre in the Jadugora po­lice sta­tion area in Jhark­hand. The J&K state gov­ern­ment needs gi­ant steps to im­prove ad­min­is­tra­tion, con­nect with the pop­u­la­tion and counter ISI plans. Lack of gov­er­nance and lack of con­tact with the grass­roots cer­tainly would not help im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.


Cog­ni­sance must be taken of the anti-In­dia venom be­ing broad­cast from loud­speak­ers atop mosques. Is it the voice of some ra­bid mul­lahs or is it oth­ers who hold the cler­ics hostage? What about the daily sep­a­ratist dik­tat in the ver­nac­u­lar dailies? What ex­actly is the J&K state gov­ern­ment do­ing to stem the re­place­ment of the sufi cul­ture by hard­liner wa­habi-salafi preach­ing? Has di­rect and pe­ri­odic di­a­logue opened with the cler­ics? Op­er­a­tions are es­sen­tial against the hard­core but mil­i­tary so­lu­tion is not the key, pop­u­la­tion be­ing the cen­tre of grav­ity. True blend­ing of de­vel­op­ment with ed­u­ca­tion, pro­tect­ing pop­u­la­tion from vi­o­lence, counter nar­ra­tive to ex­ter­nal in­for­ma­tion war and tak­ing proxy war into spon­sor’s ter­ri­tory are es­sen­tial.

De-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion must be well thought out strat­egy that should be em­ployed on con­tin­u­ous ba­sis at per­sonal level, aided by mod­ern tech­nol­ogy. De-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­grammes must have sep­a­rate fo­cus for se­lect com­mu­ni­ties/re­gions, teach­ers/reli­gious teach­ers, youth, girl child/moth­ers, ap­pre­hended ter­ror­ists plus pop­u­la­tion at large li­able to sup­port ter­ror­ism. Dis­course of Mus­lim lead­ers should be part of the de­rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­grammes. The ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem must be in­te­grated into the na­tional main­stream. Ethics and true na­tion­al­ism should form part of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. In­tro­duc­tion of NCC in most schools and col­leges would be fruit­ful. Com­mu­ni­ties must be kept in­formed and em­pow­ered to chal­lenge rad­i­cal ide­ol­ogy. Psy­cho­log­i­cal op­er­a­tions should in­clude ex­pos­ing ter­ror­ist abuses, con­di­tions in PoK vis-à-vis J&K, and that Pak­istan as the epi­cen­tre of ter­ror­ism

has brought ridicule to Mus­lims and Is­lam glob­ally. Al­ter­na­tives to ex­pend youth en­er­gies and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties must be part of the pro­gramme. Fi­nally, the de-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­grammes must be pe­ri­od­i­cally re­viewed in re­la­tion to the on­go­ing rad­i­cal­iza­tion, to en­sure it is ef­fec­tive and course cor­rec­tions made where re­quired.

At the Herat Se­cu­rity Di­a­logue held in Oc­to­ber 2015 in Afghanistan, Salman Khur­shid (for­mer Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter) giv­ing key­note ad­dress spoke of in­ter-re­gional civil­i­sa­tion in­flu­ences and ex­plained that Hin­duism is a way of life that em­braces all and that “In­dia has Mus­lim Hin­dus, Chris­tian Hin­dus, Bud­dhist Hin­dus, Jain Hin­dus etc, which is com­mon phe­nom­e­non.” Dr Ali Ak­bar Shah (Delhi Univer­sity), said, “Is­lamic coun­tries should learn from In­dia where mys­ti­cism of all re­li­gions in­clud­ing of Is­lam have been amal­ga­mated and ab­sorbed. As for Is­lam, In­dia has ab­sorbed both the Is­lam brought by in­vaders as well as by sages like Kh­waja Moin­ud­din Chishti,” adding “there is need to re­vive the true spirit of Is­lam and while ev­ery­one knows what has gone wrong, we need to act to set it right.” Such ex­po­sures to the J&K youth would be use­ful.

Pub­lic Par­tic­i­pa­tion

Civil so­ci­ety can con­trib­ute greatly in pre­vent­ing and countering ter­ror­ism rather than en­cour­age ter­ror­ism espe­cially since it gives voice to the marginalised and vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and vic­tims of ter­ror­ism, gen­er­at­ing aware­ness and pro­vid­ing con­struc­tive out­let for re­dress of griev­ances. Non-tra­di­tional ac­tors like NGOs, foun­da­tions, char­i­ties, pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships and pri­vate busi­nesses are ca­pa­ble and cred­i­ble part­ners in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. De­spite Pak­istani spon­sored pro­pa­ganda, pub­lic needs to be sen­si­tised that our Army re­spects hu­man rights far more than Pak­istan where aerial bomb­ings and ar­tillery bar­rages are used pe­ri­od­i­cally with scant re­gard to col­lat­eral dam­age.

Seal­ing the Border

The army has erected 407-km border fenc­ing in J&K in high threat ar­eas but gaps be­tween posts can only be cov­ered through pa­trolling or am­bushes which spreads the se­cu­rity forces thin on the ground and is not 100 per cent fool­proof de­spite best ef­forts espe­cially in hours of dark­ness, fog and ad­verse weather. Pak­istan has been em­ploy­ing heavy cross-border fir­ing to as­sist in­fil­tra­tion and ter­ror­ists have also been us­ing ex­plo­sives to make gaps in the fenc­ing or dig holes un­der the fence. In ad­di­tion, heavy snow buried the fence espe­cially in north Kash­mir and large por­tions are also de­stroyed an­nu­ally be­cause of avalanches. We need to op­ti­mise the best tech­nol­ogy. Mod­ern elec­tronic sur­veil­lance in­volves de­tec­tion of move­ment, and is largely based on seis­mic, acoustic, in­duc­tive sen­sors, and in­frared sen­sors. Seis­mic sen­sors can dis­tin­guish be­tween peo­ple and ve­hi­cles. In­duc­tive sen­sors de­tect metal in an ob­ject that is mov­ing, while an in­frared sen­sors can de­tect hu­man body heat from a dis­tance of up to 100 me­tres. The unat­tended ground sen­sors (UGS) in use by army are mostly im­ported and pri­mar­ily meant for guard­ing houses/premises. These are in­ef­fec­tive with snow­fall and the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) has not been able to come up with one suit­able for snow con­di­tions.

How­ever, de­spite smart fence fit­ted with cam­eras and con­soles with com­man­ders, lim­i­ta­tions of ad­verse weather and vis­i­bil­ity con­di­tions will con­tinue. This needs to be beefed up with night-vi­sion de­vices (NVDs), night-vi­sion gog­gles (NVGs) and hand-held ther­mal im­agers (HHTIs) which are in very lim­ited num­bers. The army post at Uri, which re­cently suf­fered ghastly ter­ror­ist at­tack, did not have a sin­gle ther­mal im­ager de­spite be­ing un­der en­emy ob­ser­va­tion from three di­rec­tions. Use of radars, as done abroad to de­tect smug­glers along the US-Mex­ico border, has the dan­ger of giv­ing away the elec­tronic sig­na­tures of the equip­ment to the en­emy. Be­sides, radars also have a dead zone. Mix of elec­tronic sur­veil­lance and dogs are very suc­cess­ful. Un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles (UAVs) are be­ing used for sur­veil­lance but in lim­ited num­bers due to paucity and re­stric­tions on fly­ing mul­ti­ple UAVs si­mul­ta­ne­ously in the same zone. In­duc­tion of the Bat­tle­field Sur­veil­lance Sys­tem (BSS), Bat­tle­field Man­age­ment Sys­tem (BMS) in the army, and equip­ping In­fantry with hand-held mini aerial ve­hi­cles (MAVs) must be speeded up. With ex­cel­lent achieve­ments of the in­dian Space Re­search Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ISRO), we must also go for 24 x 7 satel­lite sur­veil­lance along our bor­ders with Pak­istan and China.

Gov­ern­ment must also se­ri­ously con­sider rerais­ing Army’s Tech­ni­cal Sup­port Di­vi­sion (TSD) that the UPA Gov­ern­ment dis­banded to great ad­van­tage of Pak­istan’s ISI; few border vil­lages in J&K have house very close to the LoC that are used by in­fil­tra­tors for night halt. Then Chief Min­is­ter of J&K Fa­rooq Ab­dul­lah ad­dress­ing the Na­tional De­fence Col­lege course in 2000 was asked by a for­eign stu­dent why the few border vil­lages very close to the LoC could not be re­lo­cated in hin­ter­land J&K. He replied he had thought about it and had al­ready asked the Cen­tre for

₹ 120 crore to shift the first vil­lage. Gov­ern­ment needs to ex­am­ine this is­sue. Cre­at­ing a va­cant belt would de­ter in­fil­tra­tion since any move­ment can be en­gaged by fire; we may not mine the LoC but cer­tainly pa­trols can keep adding IEDs, and; the prin­ci­ple of ‘One Border, One Force’ must be strictly fol­lowed.

Proac­tive Ap­proach

Adop­tion of proac­tive ap­proach in countering proxy wars is im­per­a­tive for es­tab­lish­ing ef­fec­tive de­ter­rence, and for con­trol­ling en­emy fault lines in­stead of en­emy con­trol- ling ours. This should in­clude a dy­namic in­for­ma­tion war­fare strat­egy. The sit­u­a­tion in J&K sure needs a na­tional re­sponse but the J&K state gov­ern­ment has a ma­jor role to play in this and can’t sim­ply de­pend on se­cu­rity forces for re­turn of nor­malcy. Strict ac­tion is also re­quired against those fund­ing ter­ror, spread­ing rad­i­cal­ism and as­sist­ing ter­ror­ism within the coun­try.


Mil­i­tancy and ter­ror­ism in J&K has been rag­ing for past 27 years, hav­ing com­menced in 1989 foll­wing the rigged up state elec­tions. Un­for­tu­nately, lack­adaisi­cal ap­proach at the state and to some ex­tent at the Cen­tre level has let the sit­u­a­tion de­te­ri­o­rate de­spite con­sis­tent Pak­istani ef­forts to desta­bilise the re­gion. Con­sis­tently sin­cere ef­forts are needed to nor­malise the sit­u­a­tion.

Mod­ern MAVs with for­ward look­ing in­frared sen­sors can iden­tify ob­jects at ex­tremely long dis­tances. Amer­ica’s MQ-9 Reaper UAV used for home­land se­cu­rity has cam­eras ca­pa­ble of iden­ti­fy­ing an ob­ject the size of a milk car­ton from al­ti­tudes of 60,000 feet, for­ward look­ing IR de­tect­ing hu­mans at dis­tance of 60 km. MAVs are also be­ing weaponised. US mil­i­tary is de­vel­op­ing swarms of tiny un­armed drones that can hover, crawl and even kill tar­gets. These mi­cro UAVs will work in swarms to pro­vide com­plex sur­veil­lance of bor­ders and bat­tle­fields. Aside from a laser weapon they can also be armed with in­ca­pac­i­tat­ing chem­i­cals, com­bustible pay­loads or even ex­plo­sives for pre­ci­sion tar­get­ing.

China al­ready has 24 x 7 satel­lite sur­veil­lance along the line of ac­tual con­trol (LAC) with In­dia. Re­cent me­dia re­port of a 45-km deep Chi­nese in­cur­sion in Arunachal points to this crit­i­cal void. Iran is build­ing a 700-km, 10 feet high, three-feet thick wall along its border with Pak­istan, which is still not com­plete. If we are go­ing for a sim­i­lar 3,323-km-long Indo-Pak border wall with Is­raeli as­sis­tance, it is un­likely to be com­pleted by De­cem­ber 2018. Nev­er­the­less, it would be a good be­gin­ning and we must ‘not’ ne­glect other bor­ders espe­cially border in­fra­struc­ture in the North East, which re­mains pa­thetic be­cause of gross ne­glect over a decade by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment.

China sup­ports Pak­istan’s anti-In­dia ji­had and the fact that Pak­istan con­tin­ues to link the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan with Kash­mir with­out any ba­sis what­so­ever in­di­cates Pak­istan will con­tinue to stoke the fires in J&K to the best of her abil­ity

A BSF jawan on vigil in the Kash­mir Val­ley

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