Context Rising footprints of militants have raised concern among the security agencies, which is reflecting a worsening situation in the valley. Introduction

  • Recently, the funding from ISI to the separatist leaders for provoking violence in Kashmir was exposed by the media.
  • The Indian Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police have stepped up the heat on militancy in Kashmir Valley in one year since Burhan Wani’s death
  • The youth engaging in stone pelting having false assessment about military establishments are making the situation even worse.
  • The misguided youth getting funded from militants focused on weapon snatching to overcome arms shortages, many were also killed in encounters.

Background:

  • According to police data, over 250 militants are presently active in the Valley, of which 120 militants are active in south Kashmir and about 100 are active in North Kashmir.
  • In south Kashmir, most of the militants are locals while in north Kashmir, majority of militants are foreigners.
  • After killing of Kashmir militancy’s poster boy and Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8 last year, over 100 Kashmiri youth had joined militant ranks in 2016, according to police sources.
  • Most of the youth joining militant ranks hailed from south Kashmir.
  • Kashmir is witnessing surge in militant violence and youth joining militancy.

New militancy in Kashmir:

  • The new-age militants have speedily increased their footprints in Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian districts mainly because of the unprecedented support offered by the local population.
  • The areas have seen the highest number of encounters and attacks
  • Pulwama was home to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, who was killed in an encounter with security forces in July last year.
  • It is also the base of Abu Dujana, commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in the Kashmir Valley, Abu Musa and dozens of other known militants.

How new militancy is different from old one?

  • They operate jointly across outfits without ideological differences coming in the way.
  • They do not posses forma arms training, and arrange weapons and finances locally.
  • Their action are driven by local issues, they are prepared to die.
  • They announce their entry into militancy by posing for a picture with gun and make it public.

Recent attacks:

  • On 8 July 2016, Burhan Wani, Hizbul Mujahideen commander and militant poster boy, was killed in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir which got converted to extreme violence and led to a change in the nature of the conflict.
  • Nearly a year later, on 27 May this year, security forces gunned down Wani’s second-in-command Sabzar Ahmad Bhat in Tral.

Present scenario:

  • The outpouring of emotions among the youth over the death of militants got converted to extreme violence and led to a change in the nature of the conflict.
  • Kashmir turned on the path of self-destruction ostensibly under a new leadership and new foot soldiers misguided youths.
  • The youth engaged in weapon snatching to overcome arms shortages and many of them were also killed in encounters
  • The virtual denudation of the southern belt below Shopian Kulgam and the overall inadequacy of troops in the south allowed local militancy to bloom

How militancy in the Kashmir has changed in recent time?

  • A recall of the circumstances of the period 2011-2016 may help set the tone for analysis, seek more answers and suggest a way forward.
  • The peaceful period of 2011-2013 followed the stamina-sapping 2008-2010 when the separatists attempted a strategy of combining terror and street turbulence to make their struggle more relevant.
  • However, 2011-2013 was also a recovery time which the Indian establishment failed to cash-in on despite its default actions of changed strategy of outreach and engagement, and the interlocutors’ genuine attempt at discerning the aspirations and seeking the path of compromise.
  • The ray of hope created in the people, especially the youth, did not find matching energy or a sense of commitment and continuity in the establishment.
  • The demand by the state government to do away with the AFSPA and the contestation by the army only helped create wrong narratives and took the focus away from the emerging situation.
  • The flood of 2014, followed by the elections, the heavy voter turnout, attempts at political experimentation, its initial disappointments and the passing away of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, all kept the eye away from the scanner.
  • The engagement with the people once again became transactional, providing the window that was needed by the separatists to energise the movement.
  • Pakistan had probably never considered that an opportunity was emerging, and emerging fast. It desisted from anything major in the Valley and concentrated its focus south of Pir Panjal in its strategy of keeping the fires burning.

Why government efforts could not succeed?

  • The army always laid great stress on North Kashmir. This was quite natural with three of its major formation headquarters located there and the task of counter infiltration based on LoC deployment which is essentially army-oriented.
  • By contrast, South Kashmir has only a single Rashtriya Rifles (RR) force headquarters especially in the troubled regions of Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Pampore, where the better educated youth reside.
  • It created a picture for the leadership that the focus was required in North Kashmir and the south could be treated as a bank for resources.
  • Typical tenure- based approach to problem solving, the security establishment does not display the capability to assess intellectually or learn nuances beyond the ordinary response involving gun-on-gun.
  • Intelligence agencies have a better measure of institutional continuity but lack the means of persuasion to convince and thereby alter understanding and planning.

What should be done in order to bring normality in the valley? Three areas need to be focus in order to bring normality.

  • The deployment of all forces must be more balanced and no premature withdrawal should be executed on the basis of statistical inputs.
  • The fight in the psychological domain can no longer be ignored. This needs an approach beyond what the army has provided; the army’s achievements are highly creditable but can no longer remain the only domain of focused strategic communication.
  • The continuity factor in a hybrid conflict environment has to be taken into consideration. Personnel management practices cannot override national needs and the best talent must be made available to fight the enemies of the state.
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