Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said on a couple of occasions in the recent past that the government is working towards “a permanent solution” of the vexed Kashmir issue. Of course, he is not prepared, for understandable reasons, to reveal what is “the government’s strategy” for the permanent solution, but he is emphatically clear that New Delhi is not scared of the unruly, “Islamic” and foreign-sponsored stone pelters and that these violent elements will be dealt with sternly, notwithstanding what their myriad supporters in the media, think-tanks and political parties in Delhi say about the so-called violation of human rights in the valley by our security forces.
Viewed thus, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s recent interview to PTI may have irked the Delhi-based agents of the Kashmiri separatists and stone-pelters, but the former was only speaking the obvious that human rights and other restraints by the security forces could not be ensured in a “dirty war” and that the Army had to come out with “innovative ways” to tackle the situation in Kashmir.
“This is a proxy war and proxy war is a dirty war. It is played in a dirty way. The rules of engagements are there when the adversary comes face-to-face and fights with you. It is a dirty war…. That is where innovation comes in. You fight a dirty war with innovations,” Rawat said. “People are throwing stones at us, people are throwing petrol bombs at us. If my men ask me what do we do, should I say, just wait and die? I will come with a nice coffin with a national flag and I will send your bodies home with honour. Is it what I am supposed to tell them as chief? I have to maintain the morale of my troops who are operating there,” he added.
The so-called Left-Liberals dominating our intellectual establishments in Delhi preach of talking to the “stake holders” in Kashmir and restore to them “real autonomy” by keeping only three areas for Delhi to handle – defence, external affairs , and currency. But then as one has invariably pointed out on this platform, this prescription is too vague and useless to retrieve the situation in the Kashmir valley. First, few trouble-prone districts of the valley and their separatist leaders, including the stone-pelters, do not represent the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir; so they must not be allowed to dictate the agenda for governance in the state. Imagine the situation that will arise in the Kashmir if the demands of our Left-Liberals are taken to the logical conclusion – The Supreme Court will have no jurisdictions in Kashmir, elections in the state will not be held as per the rules and procedures determined by the Election Commission of India , and the Comptroller and Auditor General will not question how money sent by the central government – which accounts for at least 70 per cent of the state’s revenue every year – to the state is utilised.
Secondly, it is a huge myth that more autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir than what is provided at the moment will solve the insurgency in the state. The separatists and stone pelters are not only unabashed supporters of Pakistan but also advocates of radical Islam – they want Kashmir to be run under “Sharia”; they do not believe in “Kashmiriyat”, the valley’s age old “Sufi-tradition” that talks of peaceful coexistence with other religions. In other words, they are now “Soldiers of Islam”, not advocates of Azadi or Self-Rule. And as “Soldiers of Islam”, they, like their counterparts in Africa and Asia, are fighting an asymmetric war(General Rawat calls it dirty war) by adopting unconventional strategies and tactics against our armed forces. And here, they are being guided by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, Army and fundamentalists.
In fact, most of the young stone pelters are now radicalised and driven to drugs by their fundamentalist masters, both in the valley and across the Line of Control. Drug abuse is now a widespread phenomenon among the boys and girls of Kashmir. Way back in 2008, a United Nations International Drug Control Programme survey had shown that there were more than 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir, including 4000 women addicts. The survey had revealed that 65 to 70 per cent of the student community in Kashmir was taking drugs and 26 per cent of female students had also fallen in this trap. More than 70 per cent of addicts fall in the age group of 18-35 years.
This phenomenon must have only grown up in the last 10 years with more and more areas of Kashmir coming under illegal poppy cultivation. After all, as has been the case in Afghanistan and Africa, the Islamic jihadists in Kashmir consider poppy cultivation as a big source of finance and its end products, drugs, a great instrument to attract the youth. That explains why the illegal poppy cultivation has witnessed a significant rise in South Kashmir, the hotbed of the separatists and stone pelters. It has been reported(the other day a prominent news channel disclosed the extent of the cultivation by taking the help of satellites) that Poppy growers in South Kashmir are “taking advantage of the police reluctance to move in the interiors of the southern district, owing to growing hostilities between militants and security forces. The cultivation is carried out in apple orchards, besides raising oats or other crops around such cultivation.”
It may be noted here that whether it is the leaders of the Islamic state(IS) or al-Qaeda or Kashmiri terrorists, they, behind the veneer of their ostensible cause, are Muslim fanatics, money launderers and drug lords. That terrorism and drugs trade are linked significantly is a big phenomenon has been pointed out in many scholarly works in recent years. These being the real faces of the Kashmiri separatist and their army of the stone pelters, do they deserve the sympathy that our human rights activists and friends in Delhi-based media and think tanks advocate for? General Rawat is right when he says that they must be dealt with strongly. It is sheer nonsense when these human rights-activists and separatists’ sympathisers in the media give a communal colour to the issue by saying that under the Hindutva-believing central government of the day, Muslim youth in the valley are being humiliated and abused. In fact, the converse is the true.
Strong action against every single stone-pelter means promoting the interests of thousands of Muslims in all parts of India. Here, I will like to point out one article written in The Milli Gazette by Firdaus Ahmed (http://www.milligazette.com/news/12383-kashmir-and-indias-muslims). According to him, the Kashmir situation has contributed in part to the pall over security of India’s largest minority, its Muslims, over the past three decades. His point is that the more separatists in Kashmir use the factor of Islam, the more the feeling gains( because it helps “motivated” and “manufactured” attempts) that “India is in danger” because ‘Muslims are fifth columnists” .
One may or may not agree with Ahmad’s views on the Modi government otherwise, but he makes enormous sense when he says “Kashmiris need being warned against flirting with violent extremists in light of the ill winds blowing from West Asia. Pakistan is proving to be dysfunctional and it is time that Kashmiris reconsider their political interests. This will incentive the Indian state towards a peace with dignity. Clearly, Kashmiri Pandits cannot be left out of this. If this is the message for Kashmiris, so must pressure be applied on the government to be responsive. Such constructive intervention will be useful precedent-setting for Muslim political action in the national interest.”
But what happens when the Kashmiri separatists do not reconsider their political interests? Then, one can only appreciate General Rawat’s message to his men that they must act.
By Prakash Nanda