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Why terrorism may be on a decline in Kashmir

April 11, 2011 15:49 IST

Set to retire on June 30, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said that if militant leadership in Kashmir wants it can join the peace process. But a dialogue is not something that these jihadists are looking at. With declining support from locals the terrorists in Valley may be down but not out, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

The Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest guerilla group operating in Kashmir has been vanquished, according to Union Home Secretary G K Pillai. He also said that militancy in Kashmir is on the downslide and India had no issues if some of these militants came forward for peace talks provided they give up violence. Is this a lull before the storm? Or is it the end of the horrific violence, which has been haunting the Valley for decades now?

"Violence has decreased considerably. However, I cannot say that this situation will continue and hence we are keeping a strict vigil. There's no proposal to extend an offer for talks with these militants, but if they shun violence they are welcome to come forward and speak. Giving up arms would be necessary to even to talk to them," Pillai said.

However, the big question is whether the lull in Kashmir is intentional and Pakistan-sponsored militant groups are behind it or whether India's security agencies have finally managed to get the better of them.

Statistics reveal that since 1989 nearly 70,000 people in the Valley have lost their lives because of violence and India will do everything it can to ensure that this number does not increase.  

Sources in the Indian intelligence say that the violence has surely come down in the Valley. Also, there has been a great deal of improvement in manning the borders, which has slowed down infiltration. In addition to this, there has also been an overhaul in the terror infrastructure in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, which have put jihadists in Kashmir on the back foot.

However, the biggest problem these terrorists in Kashmir are facing is the lack of support from locals. It's a well-known fact that they were able to operate better when they were backed by locals who often tipped them off about the movement of the Indian troops, which made it easier for terrorists to plan their movement.

However, with over tens of thousands people, mostly civilians, killed over the last 15 years, locals realise they are fighting a losing battle.
They realise that it's better to side with the Indian establishment, as this may benefit them in the long run. Many now feel that separatists are only furthering their own cause and very little is being done to help the public.

The IB also points out that it would be too early to say that these terrorist groups have given up their fight. Kashmir, for them is a burning issue, and under the new leadership of Badaruddin Haqqani, one of the sons of Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani the head of the Afghan Taliban, the Al Qaeda network may have a new plan in place.  

The Qaeda-Haqqani network is splitting into small cells, and according to intelligence inputs, they have formed a strong force to further its activities in the Valley. Hence, it is too early to say the battle is over. The heads of these terror groups feel that their recruitments may see a decline and donations will also be affected if they give up on Kashmir.

Glad that the violence in Kashmir has ceased, India's next move is to start a dialogue with separatists. But will this work in the Centre's favour? Professor S A R Geelani, a lecturer from the Delhi University who was acquitted in the Parliament attack case, says that New Delhi's plan may not work.

"The Centre's proposal appears to be conditional and talks when conditional always fail. The only way to win the battle in Kashmir is to win over the hearts of the people. If they are sincere about resolving the issue then talks should be held with no pre-condition. New Delhi should try and resolve the issue with more sincerity," he said.

India is willing to go all out to resolve the crisis, say government sources. Locals are now eager to find out if the scheme to grant amnesty to Kashmiri militants in Pakistan who want to surrender and return home will take off soon.

There are nearly 4,000 Kashmiris who have crossed over to Pakistan and are now expressing their willingness to return. If the amnesty package works and if these militants are allowed to return home, the government is bound to earn some brownie points. But, even during such an exercise a strict vigil should be maintained to ensure that anti-social elements do not look at this as an easy passage to India.

Vicky Nanjappa