Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
General Studies 2
India and its neighbourhood- relations.
A video, showing a man tied to an army vehicle as a shield against the stone pelters during polling in the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-election on April 9, triggered a public outcry. It was Major Leetul Gogoi who ordered the man, said to be a stone thrower, to be tied to the Rakshak vehicle to ensure a safe passage for the convoy he was leading. Later Major Gogoi was honoured with a Chief of Army Staff (COAS) commendation card.
The killing of Burhan Wani, a ‘commander’ of the Hizbul Mujahideen, by security forces in July last year set off a new cycle of violence in Kashmir that does not seem to have ended to this day as stone-pelting is met with pellet guns.
Change in strategy:
Events indicate that the government is changing its strategy in Kashmir and conveying the message that it mean business. The events indicating this change in recent times include:
The army recommencing cordon and search operations, announcing aggressive counter infiltration actions including destruction of Pakistani posts to the press and awarding Major Gogoi on the Jeep tying incident.
Several opposition parties have said that India is losing Kashmir with the present prevailing strategy.
In 2015 March India’s ruling BJP party sworn into government in Indian-administered Kashmir for first time in coalition with local People’s Democratic Party, with the latter’s Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as chief minister.
In 2016 July the killing of popular militant Burhan Wani, a popular militant and top commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group, sparked violent protests.
After Uri attacks in September 2016 in which 18 Indian soldiers were killed India claimed that it carried out “surgical strikes” against suspected militants along the de-facto border with Pakistan in Kashmir but Pakistan rejected the claims.
Transactional policies rather than a strategy:
It seems as if we don’t have a strategy on Kashmir, it’s all transactional policies. An event takes place the security forces are brought in. This has marked Kashmir policy for years.
The only exceptional change was during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. He had a clear cut strategy to take things forward, the back channels almost produced a solution then.
The government has put a condition that it would not engage any organisation for any kind of dialogue if they do not believe in Indian constitution.
On the other hand the separatist forces like Hurriyat is in no mood of holding talks within the framework of our constitution. The main issue is that the separatist do not want to talk within the framework of the Constitution and the present government remains adamant on its conditional dialogue.
The Kashmir problem:
On one hand, India wants to integrate Jammu and Kashmir as a normal state of the Indian Union.
On the other hand, the Kashmiris stand is that an exceptional status under article 370 of Indian constitution has been provided to Kashmir and it didn’t happen as a one-off discussion, two years of negotiations took place between the Jammu and Kashmir leader Sheikh Abdullah and the central government on what the terms of agreement should be.
Kashmir has become a pressure cooker there no safety valves. Safety valves in a democracy are elections, dialogue, peaceful protests. Much before stone pelting peaceful protests were banned, people like Yasin Malik for peaceful protests.
Sense of alienation/discrimination:
The voice of the youth has become the primary form of protest. While it was a gun in the 1990s from 2008 it is the stone pelting.
The Sinha delegation report states that Kashmiris say India has failed them, that a sense of discrimination pervades the Kashmiri minds, that there is a history of broken commitments, that ‘India hasn’t done enough to keep Kashmiris with it’, that ‘there is a sense of betrayal against India’. (Sinha delegation- A five-member team created by present government for Track-II diplomacy)
After Burhan Wani incident the whole valley south Kashmir rose as one. This shows the deep turmoil and anger in the valley especially amongst the youth.
The longer the political process is delayed the angst, especially amongst the youth, will increase. The alienation will enhance hugely and we have a problem also of radicalization.
The Pakistan factor:
Any disturbance in valley becomes an ideal situation for Pakistan to fish in trouble water
What needs to be done?
Maintaining robust security:
Improve information gathering
Winning Hearts and Minds(WHAM):
Follow a humane approach to Kashmiri people
A congenial atmosphere needs to be created but not by using brute force
Activities like the honoring Major Gogoi should be strictly avoided keeping in mind the sensitivity of the Kashmiris.
Innovative techniques such as tying a young man to the front of the Jeep gives us a bad name. So instead of winning hearts and minds of people we will end up making people have contempt for the army and mainland India.
The Kashmiri youth must be brought into the mainstream.
Ours is accommodative democracy. We’ll have to listen to the dissenting voices as well.
Thus, unconditional political peace process must be initiated as soon as possible
The central government should handle the issue with great aptitude
The agenda of Alliance which the PDP and BJP signed before they came into power which said they would have talks with everybody should be looked into.
It’s not as if unconditional talks have not been held in the past. Naga talks were unconditional and we will have years of ceasefire and will be working towards the solution which will be within the Constitution of India. Thus while we did not begin with the Constitution, we end with the Constitution. Something similar can be done for kashmir also.
Mutli-dimensional talks and discussion rather than brute force is required to win the hearts of Kashmiris. The Kashmir problem is much more than the territorial issue. The sense of discrimination prevailing among youths in Kashmir and the increasing radicalization can be a threat to the country’s security and stability in future.
Connecting the dots:
Discuss government’s strategy towards handling the Kashmir issue. Elaborate how winning hearts and mins(WHAM) strategy rather than brute force is required to solve the Kashmir problem.
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