Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Does this reflect a new trend?

Does this reflect a new trend?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 25 February 2009

It is true the people of Jammu and Kashmir are not happy with the status quo, and they have suffered immensely over the past decades in order to get their fundamental rights, including most cherished and inherent right of self determination. But it is also true that some people have made this militancy in to a business, and have become very rich while the ordinary masses suffered and made sacrifices.

Those who turned the militancy in to a religious war by ‘importing’ guest militants from various Muslim countries did us no favour. They changed the fundamental character of the struggle as it was no longer perceived as an indigenous Kashmiri struggle; and this provided a strong propaganda stick in hands of the Indian government to persuade the international community that it was Pakistani government and its agencies which are inciting, controlling and funding the militancy.

Those who have benefited from this struggle and continue to do so want it to continue. They want misery and suffering of the people to continue because it boosts their influence, power and material gains. Anyone who points out at nefarious plans - hunger for fame, power and money is perceived as an enemy by this mafia which in actual fact is enemy of people of Jammu and Kashmir. This gang or parasite which breeds on blood and destruction is also an enemy of Pakistan as their policies have landed Pakistan in hot water.

This mafia through its control of media and assumed authority to issue edicts on religious matters has assigned task of misleading people. They even control and influence different Forums on the internet, and spread lies and disinformation which help them to continue with what they are doing. This mafia’s foot soldiers on the internet are also elevated to the status of mujahids – holy warriors and rewarded with appropriate perks because they help them to spread lies and defame those who are exposing them.

It is true the people of Jammu and Kashmir are not happy with what Indian government and its forces have done to the people; but it is also true that people don’t want to join Pakistan, as they don’t see bright future there because of what is going on there. Also people know what Pakistani agencies and their agents in form of non Kashmiri militants and politicians have done since 1988.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir have suffered but now they have better understanding of the actors who are involved in shaping their lives and their future. They now know that people with vested interests, be they Indians, Pakistanis or Kashmiris are more interested in feathering their own nests. They also know that taking part in elections is not same as taking part in a plebiscite to determine the future status of Jammu and Kashmir.

It is because of this understanding that they rejected calls of APHC and other leaders who oppose democratic values, rule of law, tolerance and fundamental rights of all citizens of the State, and have taken part in the elections that their elected representatives could help them to resolve their day to day problems. People were bewildered as to why these proxy leaders of Islamabad justified elections on the Pakistani side of Kashmir but opposed them on the India side. It soon became apparent that these leaders were doing this because of material gains; and people of Jammu and Kashmir rightly rejected their calls for a boycott.

Apart from that another important development has taken place on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir. According to a report of Kashmir Observer of 18 February 2009, nearly 14,000 youths took part on the Indian army’s recruitment drive which began in the district of Baramulla.

A debate has started as to why so many people have turned up to join the Indian army, especially if the army is taken as army of occupation. Some people say it is the poverty and unemployment which is forcing people to join the army others have different explanations.

There are many reasons why people join army. Unemployment could be one reason, but surely it is not the only reason. Some join because it is their family tradition, others join as they like the life style, training and discipline they get in that environment. Of course there are many who want to serve their nation, but perhaps this was not the motivational factor for the Kashmiris to join the Indian army, which until recently was loathed as army of occupation.

Many have expressed their resentment and hate against India and the army; and they continue to do so. But then question arises if they hate the army so much why nearly 14,000, from Baramula district alone want to be part of that army. Is it just the poverty and unemployment which is forcing people to join the army; or there are other factors as well?

People of Palestine dislike and hate the Israeli army; and there is more poverty and unemployment there than what there is in Jammu and Kashmir. The question is would people of Palestine join that army which they regard as killer army and army of occupation?

In view of some Kashmir watchers this signals a clear change of approach, especially if it is seen in light of outcome of the recent elections. Kashmiris know they can take part in elections and still continue their struggle for right of self determination and oppose the Indian rule.

Some experts argue that people of Jammu and Kashmir, by and large regard the Indian army as army of occupation, as more than 70,000 people have lost their lives since 1988. According to some experts Border Security Force, Kashmir Task Force and later on Special Operations Group and Rashtriya Rifles are responsible for most of the atrocities.

In 1990, the Indian army in order to reduce its internal commitment established the Rashtriya Rifles, which was raised by former chief of Army staff General B C Joshi for the exclusive role of fighting insurgency in Kashmir. The Indian policy makers thought in the event of a war with Pakistan, the 40,000-strong Rashtriya Rifles would protect the lines of communication and supplies from militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir that the army could fight the Pakistan army unhindered by guerrilla actions.
It would be pertinent to point out that Jammu and Kashmir Police, Kashmir Task Fore and Special Operation Group have also played an important role in fighting militancy. It is ironic that they are recruited from the local people, and are responsible for arresting, torture, custodial deaths and killing of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims. They have helped the Indian government to maintain their control over Jammu and Kashmir. So we have to take this aspect in to consideration when commenting on deaths and tortures of the Kashmiri people.
While analysing the new trend or the recruitment drive, some experts think the Indian army’s Operation Sadbhavana has also played some role in ‘building the confidence’ of the local people. The army experts thought force alone was not enough to put down the insurgency, and they launched Operation Sadbhavana in 1998 to ‘extend a helping hand in rebuilding the socio-economic life of people’. The aim of Operation Sadbhavana was to work with the state administration to improve the ‘quality of life of the people of the state’.
However in my opinion there are other factors which have helped to change the thinking. People have learnt that their leaders have betrayed them and they have become richer, live in big houses, fly first class and don’t appear to be from the masses. These leaders enjoy their lives while the people continue to suffer.
Apart from that the main party - Pakistan which supported the militancy and provided oxygen to it, is faced with serious internal challenges. The militancy has come down considerably over the past years due to various reasons, and one main reason was decline of support from Pakistan. Pakistan has too much on its plate already, and won’t be able to support the militancy, as it did in the past.
In my view these factors have helped to change the public attitude towards militancy and the elections. They can boycott elections and continue for their right of self determination. Some now think that they can join the army, but still continue to demand for right of self determination.
In any case some think if their leaders have a right to enjoy life, fly in helicopters and expensive cars provided to them by their occupiers, then they also have duty to feed their families and live life in some comfort. I know agents of this mafia will once again attack me, so I am providing a web link to the news about the army recruitment.

Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

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