The Resurrection of Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir

On Oct 6, 2021, Terrorists killed two teachers of the Government Boys Higher Secondary School Sangam, Eidgah in Srinagar in Kashmir valley. Unfortunately, this was the third attack in a week. The teachers who made their supreme sacrifices are identified as Ms Standier Kour and Mr Deepak Chand. The two were martyred just two days after Makhan Lal Bindroo, a 68-year-old chemist, street vendor Virender Paswan from Bihar’s Bhagalpur, and Muhammad Shafi Lone, a taxi driver, were shot dead at separate places in Kashmir. Since last week, seven civilians have been martyred in Srinagar alone. No words can express our anger and anguish. Our hearts go out to their families. The nation stands by them in this hour of grief and trauma. Such an inconsolable tragedy!” These brave hearts decided to face the challenges of terrorism and remained in Kashmir Valley when many left. The Jammu and Kashmir police sources say that the terror outfit called ‘The Resistance Front (TRF)’ is behind these attacks.

Terrorism works to undermine the sense of security and disrupt everyday life to harm the government’s ability to function. This strategy of the terrorists aims to drive public opinion to undermine the government’s authority. Terrorism affects the self-confidence of the people and causes a feeling of defeatism. The terrorists want to instil fear in the minds local populace. The random killings certainly contribute to the sense of anxiety. When the routine life of the local populace requires calculation in advance the risk of injury or loss of life in a possible terrorists’ attack, daily life becomes rife with apprehension and inconstancy. Targetting civilians, these terrorists violate every aspect of International rules of war and impinge on human rights.

State-sponsored terrorism is the government support of violent non-state actors engaged in the acts of terrorism. In such cases, the states sponsor the terrorist groups in many ways, including funding terrorist organisations, providing training, supplying weapons, and hosting groups within their borders. The alleged terrorist group TRF, which has recently claimed responsibility for the killings in Kashmir, is supposed to be the front runner of Pakistan based terrorist group called Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

Pakistan’s meddling in J&K commenced soon after the partition in 1947, based on two-nations theory. They despatched its troops under the guise of the raiders to the state to force the ruler of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir to join Pakistan. However, their aim was defeated due to the timely intervention of the Indian Armed Forces.

After repeatedly failing to annex the J&K from India, Pakistan lost East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971. When Pakistan could succeed in conventional warfare then launched the policy of ‘thousand cuts’ to bleed India. Furthermore, its policy to bleed India by thousand cuts is draining human resources and materials resources. Besides alienating J&K from the national mainstream, it is a severe strain on India’s growth story.

There are currently five main groups fighting in Kashmir, all of which benefit from Pakistani support:

· Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM);

· Laskhar-e-Tayyiba (LeT);

· al Badr;

· Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)

· Harakat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM).

Pakistan’s backing for these groups revolves around the perennial conflict with India – a militarily, economically and demographically superior state misconceived as a fundamental threat to Pakistan’s long-term viability, integrity and sustainability.

Many analysts see Pakistani interference in Kashmir as the prime cause which keeps the Kashmiri trouble-pot boiling. Pakistan is associated with the promotion of separatism and terrorism in J&K. A narrative was carefully constructed that the problem of J&K cannot be solved without Pakistan. This narrative suits Pakistan and the people who are associated with Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir. By allowing this notion to disseminate, India was tied down, letting Pakistan achieve its objectives.

The danger to India from cross-border terrorism is factual and tangible. Irrespective of the political dispensation in Pakistan, this hazard is not likely to regress. If anything, given the extent to which Pakistani society has radicalised, the support being extended to terrorist groups inimical to India will only increase. Moreover, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan with the help of China and Pakistan has further compounded problems for India. Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda, former military commander for Northern Command between 2014-2016, said militant groups based across the border in Pakistan would “certainly try and push men” into Kashmir, following the Taliban victory in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s geopolitical horizon has increased with the coming of the Taliban, which will result in the toughening of its position on Kashmir.

Therefore there is a need for the clear assertion of foreign policy in combating cross-border terrorism. A high cost must be imposed on the Pakistan military if cross-border terrorism is to cease. The essence of the doctrine must aim at imposing such exceptionally high and unbearable costs to the point of annihilating those hostile military posts that are perceived or believed to have provided support to terrorists infiltrating across the Line of Control. This punishment must be delivered in near real-time to have the requisite degree of impact. It would, hence, be essential to have the capacity and capability to operate against specified targets across the Line of Control(LoC) in short duration punitive strikes. The ability to carry out such strikes consistently over time and space can give India the punitive edge to deter Pakistan from continuing its existing policy of ‘bleeding India with a thousand cuts’. ( Lt.Gen Dhruv Katoch, Combatting Cross-Border Terrorism: Need for a Doctrinal Approach, CLAWS journal 2013).

Creating and supporting the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir is considered a comparatively inexpensive and fruitful way of counterweighing existing power symmetries. Religious necessities also come into play. Pakistan has precisely pursued to copy and transplant the success of the anti-Soviet Afghan and now anti-US led forces in Afghanistan to campaign in Kashmir. Thus are encouraging foreign militants to participate in the conflict as part of the broader moral duty owed to the jihad. According to New Delhi and Srinagar intelligence sources, the medium to long-term aim is to trigger a generalised Islamic revolution across the northeast and eventually India.

Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, and the only issues left are Pakistan and China’s illegal occupation of territories of the erstwhile state of J&K. Certainly, the Indian contours of settling the problem of the state have changed immensely. Moreover, Pakistan may view interference in Jammu and Kashmir as a profitable way of initiating unrest in India, but certainly, this policy carries definite risks. It is ostensible that the army of Pakistan exercise complete control over the proxies they have helped to create, some of which are now openly talking about stimulating a fundamentalistic uprising in Pakistan itself. Should the terrorism in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir end, there is a noticeable risk these terrorist groups will channelise their energies and attention to the quest of this very objective? That is the fundamental reason why Pakistan endures to infiltrate terrorists LoC to India to keep them busy and, therefore, out of Pakistan.

Courtesy: Balwan Nagial

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