AN interesting situation has developed in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir State, where Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at New Delhi assured the world that “New Delhi is seeking permanent solution to the Kashmir problem and it will be dome after taking Kashmiri people into confidence”. However, the on ground operations against the Kashmiris suggests something else. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is carrying out mass scale raids on various locations in Jammu and Kashmir, targeting top separatist leaders and their associates. New Delhi had been repeating at the top of its pitch, “”We cannot permit the separatists to play with the future of the youth in Jammu and Kashmir”.
Although, the Indian Home Ministry has claimed that there is a drastic fall in infiltration, which amounts to reduction by 45 percent in the last six months but Indian Army and the Security Forces are claiming that there is a tremendous increase in the infiltrations and attacks on Indian security forces. In this confused statement New Delhi is blaming Indian Army for the fake projection of infiltration and Mujahideen attacks.
Meanwhile, the morale among Army soldiers and para military personnel, deployed in Jammu and Kashmir State, is ever low. The statement of Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, in fact, further aggravated the situation. There is open debate in all the officers’ messes and Langars (soldier messes) that the Indian Army is no more peace-loving force to restore normalcy in troubled State but it is an occupying tyrant force. Most of the officers and troops are blaming the Indian government in the centre as well as the State government for the political betrayal, rigging in local elections, dirty politics, poor governance, and anti-Army approach. Many officers and personnel have unexpectedly applied for long leaves on the grounds of domestic problems and developing psychological problems.
Few days back, unscheduled Corps Commanders conference was held, which was presided over by Lieutenant General Devraj Anbu, Commander Northern Command, Udhampur and attended by Corps Commanders of 14 Corps, Leh, 15 Corps, Srinagar and 16 Corps, Jammu. The conference suggested further course of action for the approval of Indian Army Chief. Unconfirmed reports claimed that shortly before the conference, an Israeli helicopter also landed at the helipad at Udhampur base, which suggested that an Israel counter-insurgency team also attended the Corps Commander conference. It was decided in the conference that unless the Kashmiris took up the arms or frequency self-staged terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir State is not increased, the situation would remain out of control.
General Bipin Rawat has officially admitted the new strategy Indian Army has employed in Jammu and Kashmir State and other troubled states. He made it clear that he approved coercive measures when his officers in Jammu and Kashmir State, deployed on election duties told him that the local Kashmiris are throwing stones at Indian Army and what should we do? He clarified, “I could not respond that my men should wait and die so that I will come with a nice coffin wrapped in Indian national flag and I will dispatch bodies home with honour.”
However, a senior Indian Army officer, who had commanded Northern Command in the past said on the condition of anonmity that what India Army Chief fail to realize is what if tomorrow the Kashmiris use retired and serving Army officers and personnel as human shields against Indian military operations. He added that in such a case the blame must be accepted by unwise command of Indian Army which awarded Army Chief’s commendation card to an Army officer who used Kashmiri civilian as human shield. If we recall, Major Leetul Gogoi of 53 Rashtriya Rifles, has been honoured with the Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation Card for sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations and his out of the box thinking and using local Kashmiris as human shield to protect Indian troops from the stones of the protesters.
Many of the Kashmiris, living on both side of the Line of Control (LoC), who had left militancy and were following the democratic methods to record breach of their rights by Indian occupying forces are discussing the challenge given to them by the Indian Army Chief, when he said, “In fact, I wish these Kashmiri protesters, instead of throwing stones at us, were firing weapons at us. Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I should do.
“A school teacher who had never even touched a gun and confined to mere participating in the Friday protests showed his readiness to leave teaching profession and stop Indian Army from using Kashmiris as human shields or killing them in fake encounters. However, Kashmiri leadership has asked the Kashmiris to remain peaceful and not to adopt undemocratic methods to achieve right of self-determination on the basis of UN Resolutions. One wonders unless the Indian Army and the Indian political leadership are not on the same grid, there can be no permanent solution to Jammu and Kashmir issue.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.