Kashmir on the boil; what can India do?
Recently Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh highlighted the scourge of terrorism at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Home Ministers’ meet in Islamabad. In an unambiguous exposition, he said that no one could support terror in any way. In a strongly worded speech, aimed mostly at the host, Singh said it was necessary to stop the glorification of terror acts and terrorists. He also called for effective measures to ensure those committing terror acts do not escape prosecution and punishment, and are extradited or prosecuted.
The menace of terrorism is amplified by the misuse of digital technology. In our effort to tackle terrorism, we should look into all possible avenues of cyber-crime, its linkages with the terrorist world, and how these can be dealt with. Attention and effort need to be devoted to ensure that social media and other modern technology is not misused for misleading the youth or promoting terrorism. Singh also stressed on the need to ensure that terrorism is not glorified or patronised by any state.
One country’s terrorist cannot be a martyr or freedom fighter for anyone else. Singh added that the strongest possible steps need to be taken not only against terrorists and terrorist organisations, but also against those individuals, institutions, organisations and nations that support them. This alone will ensure that the forces engaged in promoting terrorism are effectively countered.
While Pakistan is guilty of fomenting trouble in Kashmir, why does not our Government deal with the changing situation firmly? A politician from Jammu & Kashmir said that we should treat Kashmir humanely. Nobody can differ with him but surely his humanity cannot extend to terrorists.
Successive Governments have pampered people who went to Pakistan decades ago for terror training, who were responsible, for the migration of minorities on the basis of religion. The return of these people has not made much difference; if anything, the situation has worsened. Nobody knows whether they now have any hand in sheltering the people coming from Pakistan. Even the starting of a bus service between India and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has not made much of a difference.
The President of the European Commission, August 3, 2016, has spoken harshly about countries that seek to keep out Muslim refugees from West Asia. But his words may have fallen on deaf ears. A number of European nations have made clear that they are not willing to welcome refugees (mostly Muslims) because of the current crisis. The resistance has been loudest in Central Europe; although Western Europe has not exactly thrown open its doors either. Countries like Hungary have refused to allow Muslim refugees from Syria into their country.
The opposition parties in Rajya Sabha have urged the present Government to start a political process with all the stakeholders in Jammu & Kashmir. They seem to have forgotten that the previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went to Srinagar a number of times, for the same purpose. Nobody came to see him, despite his open offer to meet anybody. Why does the the Opposition not take the lead, go to Kashmir and starts the preliminary process? Opposition leaders should go without any security, talk publicly and give feedback, before the Prime Minister goes to Kashmir. The onus lies on them to not only make speeches but also start the dialogue process.
I am sure that the Government will appreciate their steps. Successive Governments have followed the policy of surrender, instead of facing the problem with firmness. It started in 1989, when 3.70 lakh Hindus were forced out of the valley. In 1989, Rubiya Sayeed, the daughter of the then Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was kidnapped and released in lieu of some terrorists.
First attack occurred on 30 March, 2002, when two suicide bombers attacked the temple. Eleven persons including three security forces personnel were killed and 20 were injured. Second time, the terrorists attacked on November 24, 2002, when two suicide bombers stormed the temple and killed fourteen devotees and injured 45 others. On July 13, 2002, terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba threw hand grenades in Srinagar and then fired on civilians standing nearby killing 27 and injuring many more. Some 24 Hindus were killed in Nadimarg, Kashmir on March 23, 2003. On October 18, 2005, suspected Kashmiri militants killed the then education minister of the State, Ghulam Nabi Lone. A militant group called Al Mansurin claimed responsibility for the attack. Abdul Ghani Lone, a prominent All Party Hurriyat Conference leader, was assassinated by unidentified gunmen during a memorial rally in Srinagar. The assassination resulted in wide-scale demonstrations against the Indian forces for failing to provide enough security cover for Mr. Lone. On May 3, 2006, militants massacred 35 Hindus. Allotting land of less than 100 acres for the temporary structure of Hindu pilgrims on Amarnath Yatra, evoked protests leading the local Government to bend on its knees and cancel the allotment. There is almost a continuous Pakistani sponsored war in Kashmir on daily basis.
The latest killing of a terrorist had led to the separatists ruling the roost, from July this year, and even Opposition to malign the Government has said that the pellets should not have been used. It is almost short of saying that no force should have been used. On August 2, Mehbooba Mufti delivered a speech that is probably the most important speech of her career. Addressing the civil society in Baramulla on August 2nd, she spoke without the usual restraint that is seen in politicians who are in power. She rebuked her audience for turning blind eye to the reality of Kashmir today. She rued the fact that mosques were being used to coerce and threaten women and children to come out and protest. She was distressed that young girls were being stopped on streets and were asked to dress ‘modestly’. She wondered what would happen to a land where a 10-year-old is so steeped in fanaticism that he can slap a senior citizen. She expressed anguish that Kashmir could go the same way as Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. And then most importantly she made no bones when she said ‘Is there asaazish to keep our children illiterate, unemployed so that it is easier to hand them stones?’
Kashmiris are our brethren, but those who have been misled should see for themselves as to what happened in Peshawar last year and this year on August 8 in Quetta. Our Kashmiri friends should remember that the past always has a way of returning.