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Why Terrorism Has Revived In Kashmir

October 18, 2021 13:44 IST
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The sectarian killings by hit-and-run groups have revived and sharpened communal fears among the victims while the Poonch encounter reveals how deep the terrorists have dug in without getting noticed in the porous border area, notes Mohammad Sayeed Malik, the distinguished commentator on Kashmir affairs.

IMAGE: Relatives mourn Makhan Lal Bindroo, the well-known Kashmiri Pandit pharmacist who was murdered by terrorists, at his funeral in Srinagar, October 6, 2021. Photograph: Danish Ismail/Reuters

Perhaps nothing could have exposed the hollowness of the misconceived political 'message' behind the planned visit of nearly fifty central ministers to troubled Kashmir over the past four weeks, more than the stunning series of militant attacks resulting in the death of 11 non-state subject civilians and Kashmiri Pandits across the Valley and nine army personnel in Poonch sector by yet to be tracked terrorists.

That the selective killings in the Valley betrayed its evil intention is no more in doubt: Targeted incidents of killing in Srinagar and in South Kashmir were aimed at creating a fresh scare among Kashmiri Pandits intending to return home after three decades and to deter ordinary migrant workers mainly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and comprising Hindus as well as Muslims from working here.

The immediate net result is that the fear psychosis behind the drastic politico-Constitutional denudation of the then composite state of Jammu and Kashmir is getting aggravated ominously.

On the one hand, the sectarian killings by hit-and-run groups have revived and sharpened communal fears among the victims and, on the other, the Poonch encounter reveals how deep the terrorists have dug in without getting noticed in the porous border area.

These incidents have exposed the fallacy of claim by the government that the militancy had been 'nearly wiped out' from the Union Territory and that the sense of security among different sections of population had been considerably strengthened as a result of which the development works were gaining momentum.

To push the process and consolidate it, a series of visits by nearly 70 central ministers were planned to different parts of the Union Territory, mainly the Valley.

IMAGE: Kashmiri Pandit families return to the Jagti migrant camp in Jammu after the recent incidents of terrorism. Photograph: PTI Photo

An inference is that unavoidable diversion of attention and manpower of the security grid necessitated by these ill-advised visits offered an opportunity to elusive groups of militants to go for their targets and put their communally motivated design into action.

It started with a brazenly communal attack in Srinagar which was repeated more brazenly only a day or two later with stunning impact on the public morale.

Kashmiri Pandit families living in guarded colonies with their employed members started rushing back to Jammu.

Migrant workers from other states chose to not panic until militants struck at a couple of places in South Kashmir targeting Muslim workers as well.

These hit-and-run sporadic killings by groups of two to three mainly pistol carrying groups is not a familiar phenomenon. Militants in Kashmir are usually known to be armed with larger weapons like AK-47.

If, as some security experts say, the killers throw the pistol away after committing the crime, their detection becomes that much more difficult for the security forces.

The fear on the ground is ominously more manifest after these killings. Lingering psycho-emotional impact of 'shock-and-awe sought to be created on August 5, 2019 with the 'cutting to its size' the country's only Muslim majority state is getting accentuated.

A couple of avoidable recent administrative orders, like the one seeking to reopen the land sale by Kashmiri Pandit migrants over the past three decades has compounded fears among those who have genuine legal documents but fear its retrospective annulment if the seller chose to question its validity.

No doubt there are known to be a few cases of distress sale and also outright encroachment, but most of these cases have already been resolved with usurpers made to part with the booty.

Now this Open General Licence (OGL)-like order there are valid fears of reverse victimisation.

If anything, the recent incidents and their immediate fallout on the ground has exposed the ominous vulnerability of the (post-2019) political vacuum on the ground.

Though the pro-NDA groups have been quantitatively feasting on the fallout of officially-blessed denudation of the erstwhile leading mainstream parties, National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, there is yet no perceptible of its qualitative dividends on the ground.

Significantly, signs of disillusionment are beginning to manifest in the Jammu and Ladakh regions too.

Jammu traders observed a protest hartal against the policies and actions of the state administration as well as the central government.

Buddhist-majority Ladakh has also been voicing grievances of being neglected. They now demand full statehood.

These signs of disquiet across the three regions of the erstwhile J&K state indicate the diminishing returns of the NDA government's drastic action on August 5, 2019.

The longer they delay normalising the ground conditions in the Union Territory, greater would be the danger of its consequences on the security front as much as the political front.

Too long a delay in winding up the Delimitation Commission and holding assembly polls, not to forget restoration of the full statehood to J&K, is bound to boomerang,

This part of the scenario needs to be viewed in the context of the volatile political vacuum on the ground coupled with its undesirable projections like militancy feeling bold enough to resurface with a bang and the 'tasteless sin' of laboured creation of a centrally-fathered pliable political alternative.

The stunning lesson of outcome of the civic polls held earlier this year ought not to be forgotten so soon. Post-poll manipulation to put together alternative contraptions has just revealed its undesirable consequences of sinister magnitude.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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