As militancy wanes, violent public protests rise - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 3 August 2016

As militancy wanes, violent public protests rise

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 3rd Aug 2016

After the 2014 general election, sections of the Kashmiris, weary of insurgency and clutching at hope, believed that a vigorous Bharatiya Janata Party government would quickly finish off the flagging insurgency. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they believed, would force Pakistan to stop infiltrating militants, and life in the Kashmir valley would regain a semblance of normalcy.

Quite the opposite is happening. On Saturday, for the first time since the insurgency began in 1990, a mainstream politician, Iftikhar Misgar from the National Conference (NC), publicly renounced mainstream politics and pledged support to separatism. Misgar is a prominent leader; in the last Kashmir election, he contested against Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and, before that, against the late Mufti Mohammed Saeed.

The frenzied public embrace of separatism is even more worrying. In 1990, Kashmiri youths joined the “azaadi” (freedom) movement in the thousands, driven by raw emotion and without considering the consequences. Since then, they have paid the price in deaths, injuries, disappearances, psychological trauma and lack of development. Today, with full knowledge of the consequences, Kashmiris are back to openly supporting violent separatism.

Over the last two years, civilians have even begun confronting the army. In incident after incident, unarmed locals have attacked armed soldiers who had laid cordons around villages where militants were holed up. Since most militants operating in the valley are now Kashmiri, the civilians pelted stones to breach the cordon and provide a route for the militants to escape.

In April, the army was forced to issue a statement warning locals that force would be used against civilians breaking a cordon. This followed the injuring of a dozen soldiers in stone throwing by locals. In February, two civilians, including a female university student, were killed while attacking an army cordon in Pulwama.

Furthermore, Kashmiri civilians are now defiantly attending funerals of militants killed by the security forces, celebrating their “martyrdom”. Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s funeral earlier this month is estimated to have been attended by 1,20,000 locals. The burial was delayed by three hours because only 30,000 people could fit into the enclosure where his funeral prayers (namaaz-e-janaaza) were being read. The prayers were eventually conducted four times.

Ironically, public protests are escalating as armed militancy ebbs. After insurgency began in 1990, thousands of militants roamed the valley. Now, according to J&K Police and army figures, there are just 147 armed militants active in Kashmir.

With the Line of Control (LoC) now fenced and the army having gradually improved its three-tier “counter-infiltration grid”, Pakistan cannot send in enough militants to replace those getting killed by the army and police. Last year, the security forces killed 92 militants; fewer than that managed to infiltrate into the valley. This year, just 54 militants have successfully infiltrated, says the J&K Police.

This declining trend could reverse if Kashmiris start picking up the gun again, admits the police. Since Burhan Wani’s killing sparked the current wave of violence in the valley, almost a hundred local boys have gone missing from their homes.

Inspector General of Police for Kashmir, Javed Geelani, says it is unclear how many have actually joined the militants. “Many of these youngsters will return home when the dust settles. Only then will we know how many have picked up the gun”, he says.

With the security forces oriented towards combating an armed insurgency, an escalated popular uprising would require a major re-orientation in approach, equipment, force structure and tactics.

Geelani points out that the militants, reeling under pressure from the security forces, are already using the civilians. “The current violence began from South Kashmir villages where the militants hide out, not from towns and cities. The militants are also mixing into the crowds and firing at the police, hoping to provoke a violent response that would trigger fresh protests”, he says.

“This will soon peter out”, Geelani says, optimistically. Things will be back to normal by the 15th of August.”

The furious Kashmiri youngsters have a more sobering message. Says one: “We don’t have any guns as yet. Other than that, we are all militants.”


  1. All,state governments compete to get industry hence jobs to their states, Kashmir needs to,the same.
    We need to ensure the population is productively utilised .

  2. Worst effect of CI on troops is that the fight gradually turns personal.
    Cammradierie in units, further fuel the sentiments and defeats the design
    of campaign. It's not easy to live under fear of a gun for thirty years. Long term
    Deployment without political initiatives turn counter productive and we have messed up
    once again the last 200 yards as they say.

  3. But Zee news shows Kashmiris shouting "Bharat Mata ki Jai". Ironical!!

  4. And you seem to be very happy, bashing namo on what ever reason you can, forgetting the fact in the process you back stab the national interest. i hope you die soon.

  5. “We don’t have any guns as yet. Other than that, we are all militants.”...haha ..that is why you are still alive !!!

  6. This replacement of the armed militant by an angry, unarmed Kashmiri is the biggest ill omen for India. Only, we are unable to recognize it as an ill omen. Under a PM who was touted as an administrative wonder, J&K has slid down several notches. If this continues for another 6 months, Kashmir valley would have been lost for ever. We are now at the tipping point of history.

  7. How is the comment by'Anonymous' - I hope you die soon - being allowed on the forum? If this continues, visiting this forum may no longer be an option for some.

  8. I dont get one thing. Kashmiri in POK are unhappy with Pak and request Indian intervention and on this side they hoist Pak flag.

    I am not sure if I am right, but I think the issue is Pak cannot compete with India in terms of development/ funding to Kashmir as a state and hence for it to not to lose the dream of kashmir, it keeps supporting the insurgency in the face of supporting freedom.

    Ajai, What do you think the solution can be?

  9. Hello Ajai, kashmir problem has only 1 solution and that is military conflict with pakistan and then getting rid of all pro-pak people. no amount of talks can salvage the situation as we have been doing wonderfully well in the past 70 years!! what have we achieved?? more tv and news coverage causing more anger in the entire country. because of Nehru's blunder Modi cannot be blamed. is there any individual who has a better solution? talk to separatists? they will say leave kashmir so should we leave? they will say we merge with Pak so shall we make that happen? why would they even side with us with Pakistan treating them well? then China will say that give us Leh so shall we make that happen? we gave these people too much space, they should have been crushed long back. no other country can give this much freedom as India did. the day we let them loose and pull out all troops then we will have another Syria in our backyard. Kargil was a golden opportunity which Vajpayee missed to get brownie points. no more talks please, just clean the state of all its dirt and start afresh. otherwise we can wait another 70 years and hope that talks will give us beautiful outcomes plus a nobel peace prize!!!

  10. The problem, like it has always been and always will be, is not economic, or cultural, because poor Hindus don't riot continuously, and their culture is the same as ours.

    It is religious.

    Until we confront this, by carrying out our own "infiltrations" with millions of middle class Hindus buying up property and Indianising Kashmir, this problem will never go away, and will always be one incident away from full blown riots.

    Indianising Kashmir will also have the effect of bringing prosperity to this beautiful but backward province, as the unemployed and unemployable radicals will be cast aside by the moderates, who choose employment over Islamism.

  11. NSR says ---

    As long as Kashmir stays with the special status and Article 370, it would only become worse...

    These things are keeping the movement of people, jobs, and industry and thus the frustration is growing astronomically...

    Need to show the separatists who is the boss and resettle POK refugees, Kashmir Pandits, Sikhs, Gujjars, Christians, etc in their right places...

    Resettle all the retired armed forces who want to settle in the border areas...

    India need to reclaim its rightful lands and takek all of the J&K people with proper development...

    so first step is to abrogate Article 370 and then settle all the people where they were...

  12. share 50-50... not 80-20... western river waters... abrogate indus treaty... bringing development...

  13. @Alok Asthana

    I have allowed "I hope you die soon" because it is directed at me. I need to give a voice to all my well-wishers.

  14. NSR says ---

    Col. Ajai Shukla writes and/or tries to write extremely well constructed articles...

    Everyone's opinion is different like five different fingers...

    I wish him a happy and long life...

  15. The psychology of Kashmiris is one of the most misunderstood thing the arm chair journalist and pseudo intellectuals like Shukla tout sitting in Delhi. They all shout for more money, resources and development and freedom for The Valley. Valley of Kashmir comprises of 15,948 Km Sq area which is just about 15.7 % of the total area of J&K but has about 55 % of the total population of J&K hence very strong for headcount democratic politics of the day which has aroused their centuries old sense of suppression and victimization. The erstwhile coolie and lowly waged labor population of valley over 75 years of Independence has become the most prosperous lots. Today, one does not encounter Kashmiri coolie at the bus stands of Pathankot, Chandigarh and Simla. Any one who has served in the Valley knows that except for those of Gujjars on the fringes of the valley, all villages / settlements are well connected by roads, have electricity in all houses, have running water connection and all other amenities which majority of villages in UP, MP. Maharastra and majority of Indian States can only dream of. The average income is good from Indian standards and even poorest of Kashiri can afford one non-vegetarian meal a day. There is no lack of education, health and other modern amenities. A block level primary health center has four – five doctors with modern diagnostic facilities. Lack or failure of administration is hardly a cause of dischantment like in the case of other billion mutinies. Only a desire to be part of international Islamic Ummah and particularly of closest neighbor Pakistan is at the root of the problem. The deterioration in society has taken place in the form of more burqas, more number of Masjids, absolute intolerance and sense of aloofness and sepaeratism. That is what is the result of promoting religious fundamentalism through Jammat and other outfits has been. Majority of educated lots, govt servant and local policemen are hardcore Jammaities. Started and promoted by Abdullaha family as their political base, it is now being encashed by Mufties. Religious fundamentalism of Wahabi variety has overtaken the mental makeup of average Kashmiri. It is just a confrontation against a perceived “Hindu” state. The state has failed to take action against massacre of Kasmiri Hindus and ethnic cleansing, fundamentalist ideologies and acts. Others - so called secularist, leftists and liberals have been unwittingly and at times willingly and deliberately been supporting religious fundamentalism of the society and their politics. Modern history does prove it beyond doubt that appeasement and tolerating fundamentalism has been counter productive. Take the case of erstwhile USSR, todays Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, China, France and Germany – soft approach towards fundamentalism is counter productive. Appeasing and joining them has been a poor strategy. It is under no circumstances liberal or democratic. Cursing Narendra Modi for inaction, if any, is justifiable and not for what the author is trying to peddle up.

  16. @broadsword,

    "I have allowed "I hope you die soon" because it is directed at me. I need to give a voice to all my well-wishers."

    So far, I believed you would not be scrutinizing and moderating un-necessarily like some other blogs/writers.

    Now I know my comments are being blocked. It's a shame that you provide platform to 'furious' Kashmiri youth but not their critics.

    “We don’t have any guns as yet. Other than that, we are all militants.”

  17. Having seen this play out on the news every single day. I feel that as a country we can't make this the reason for our existence like Pakistan.

    Kashmir is a thorn in India's be it...we have to deal with it.

    If your wife doesn't get along with your mother.... Didn't mean you can throw her out.... There is little you can do..

    What Nehru did 69 yrs back or what modi promised doesn't matter...( Coz modi promised a lot to the armed forces and then beat up our retired personnel at jantar mantar)

    They are all politicians....its their job to give false promises. Don't take them too seriously.

    And just too bad that we have Kashmiris wanting to get aazadi.
    Ignorance about pok and Pakistan is what drives them...

    Also the fact that they get free electricity and a lot of free bees and the freedom to throw stones without persecution.

    Had this been any muslim country like saudi arabia, Syria, Iran,Iraq... they wouldnt have been hit with rubber pellets but real bullets...

    social media is the biggest driver of this genetation. And religious motivation along with the emotions is what is driving them.

    There is no easy solution...

    No amount of op sadbhavna will woo people.
    The army has to find a way to motivate its personnel and strategise ways to protect its personnel.

    Get harsher with stone Pelters...

    Tone down the media...

    Be like china deal with Kashmir.
    Uighuirs don't dare to throw stones...

    India and Indians have to self preserve and grow as a country....real prosperity not just fudged up GDP No's.

    Solve our own internal issues like (not beating dalits).
    When there is real prosperity in India... Say after 20 yrs... Kashmiris will elect to be part of India.

    Till then accept the issue...

  18. "Get harsher with stone Pelters..."

    "Be like china deal with Kashmir.
    Uighuirs don't dare to throw stones..."

    Above comment by Anon @ 7/8/16 @ 10:43 expresses the SAME sentiments that I meant to express earlier. Only difference is he/she does it in a softer/sophisticated tone. Consider me a 'dehati' who doesn't mince words.

    These Kashmiri retards pays NO TAX Whatsoever. It is the highest tax paying states like Gujarat whose sweat and toil money goes in to feeding these traitors/freeloaders with free electricity and what not. And YET, our esteemed defense journalist Mr. Ajai Shukla wants us(not them) to restrain while expressing our feelings and sentiments.

    So here is my 2nd attempt. Let's hope it will be published this time.

    Reply to the 'furious' Kashmiri youth who says "“We don’t have any guns as yet. Other than that, we are all militants.”

    With LOVE FROM India : "We haven't started firing yet. Other than that, we have no qualms about killing as many traitors (such as you) as needed"

  19. @ Deshdaaz

    Don't presume to speak on behalf of India. You are only speaking on your own behalf. Nobody here knows who you are or what you have ever done for India. So don't get carried away by a false sense of importance. It is shared by nobody but yourself.

  20. @ Anonymous 20:20

    I'm reporting from the streets of Kashmiri towns, so I'm not quite sure who you are calling an "armchair journalist sitting in Delhi".

    You on the other hand... do not even have the courage to post under your own name. Abusing people from behind an "anonymous" tag is the unmistakeable hallmark of a coward and a fool.

  21. @ Hate Monger

    You've named yourself well. By attempting to sow divisions between the people and communities of India, you are furthering the agenda of its worst enemies.

  22. @ Anonymous 21:40

    You hope that I die soon.

    I will die soon, with or without your good wishes. I'm 58 years old already and have lived a fulfilling and productive life, of which almost half has been devoted to the service of my country (in the military) and another 15 years in the service of its people (as a journalist).

    I'll die happy. I'm not so sure about you though... Mr Anonymous.

  23. @broadsword,

    Thank you for posting the comment colonel. Thank you for your kind words as well.

    आप दिल्ही/काश्मीर में रहते/घूमते हो, बड़े बड़े लोगो के साथ आप का उठना/बैठना है, इसीलिए आप को आम आदमी की काश्मीर के अलगतावादीओ के बारे मैं क्या राय है उसका शायद अंदाजा नहीं है | मैं Mango man हूँ इसीलिए बड़े यकीन से कहता हूँ की मेरी सोच/विचार भारत के अधिकांश लोगो से जुड़े हुए है|

    Of course the elite crowd of Delhi/metros is always in denial mode or disagreement with popular street opinion. For instance, many(perhaps you as well) mocked at one point in time that Narendra Modi is potentially Prime ministerial candidate. Only with time and reality you and others had to grudgingly accept it. Few exceptional/esteemed Indians (as yourself) apart, I humbly believe my voice is not very different from rest of the India.

    Jay Hind.


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