CONTOURS
OF KASHMIR VALLEY

 

Kashmir an insight  

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1.       Kashmir is
a historical place with a rich cultural heritage, the land with beautiful
landscape and the charm of the people has been severely affected to a parody of
social and political strife over five decades. Since Independence, Kashmir has
been a issue of prime debate in Indian political and social dynamics. The
issues related to Kashmir clearly indicates the fault lines in the Kashmir
valley which have been exploited by the various players be it Pakistan,
separatists or the political leadership. The varied regional & religious
affinity, Political and electoral legitimacy of the government are the main
factors for continued instability in the region. The efforts made by the Armed
forces to change the perception or bring back the normalcy have been affected
by these factors, the proxy war in Kashmir has also survived since past three
decades due to these contours. Indian army has been able to bring down the
militancy at number of times but these fault lines have never let the situation
stabilize and led to large scale unrest, stone pelting or curfew. The efforts
made by Indian army to establish a connect with the local population to address
the root cause by applying the perception management initiatives under  the umbrella of Op Sadbhavana have been
severely affected due these factors. In this chapter the contours of Kashmir
valley will be discussed in detail to draw out the focus areas for better
execution of the perception management initiatives of the armed forces.

Fault
lines in the state of Jammu & Kashmir

2.       Religion.  The state of J&K is a simmering pot of
religions and cultures with Buddhist Ladakh, Shia Kargil and the Northern
Areas, Sunni Kashmir and a Hindu Jammu having an intra as well as
inter-religious mix, representing its plural and all-encompassing heritage.
But, the presence of a varied religions within a geographical and political
entity such as the state, has the potential of creating a divide amongst
communities. The most significant impact of the same has been in Kashmir, where
an attempt to replace Sufi Islam by fundamentalist Deobandi ideology, with
extremist practices alien to Kashmiri culture, is being made through the use of
wpn. Noted Islamic scholar Yogender Sikand highlights the gps like
Lashkar-e-Taiyyeba (LeT) are also attempting to destroy old cultural linkages
of the people to Sufi traditions.

4.       Religion
is a major emotional issue with people in general, and is not peculiar to
Kashmir. The experience of exploitation of religion in the past has not been
very savory in Kashmir. Whether it was the Hazratbal incident in 1964 and 1993,
or the Charar-e-Sharief in 1995, religion has always been an inflection point
for raising the ante of agitations and militancy. Amarnath was another such tip
for a new phase of “coerced civil agitation”. This experience was preceded by
opposition to the improvement of Sufi shrines through Operation Sadbhavna.
Exploitation of this issue by the extremists was also evident. The involvement
of state authorities in religious trusts and autonomous bodies, thus, needs
some consideration. Religion, including the management of shrines, is best left
to religious leaders as per the needs of civil society. Peruse

 

5.       Identity crises        Kashmir has also been placed at the junction
of identity crises.  Religious affinity
with Islam may draw it towards Pakistan with a support of a small group led by
the non-moderate group of the Hurriyat Conference1 ,  a faction of society under  Mirwaiz Farooq2 demands
a Azad Kashmir whereas the third segment under  pro-nationalist leaders such as the Abdullahs3
are support  a merger with the Indian
character. In Kashmir, this discord with identity has been exploited subtly by
no of players for for rallying the masses. This has been a very common
phenomenon in insurgencies, and distinction of language or national origin is
routinely employed for this purpose.  The
pd of 1950 – 1975 in Kashmir politics was dominated by the Sheikh Abdullah who
favored the Kashmir alignment with central government of India however this pd
also resulted in accumulation of mass discontent as  a resistance to Sheikh Abdullah in form of
various separatist organizations  such as
Jammat e Islami, People’s league and Jammu and Kashmir liberation front. Post
1980s the separatist movement was further fueled by militancy supported from
across the Line of control. The aspect of identity crises is still being
exploited by the terrorist organizations to support their cause.

Political
and electoral legitimacy of the government          Remains a key issue in Kashmir. The
state administration over the years, though led mostly by chief ministers from
the Valley, has at times lacked legitimacy due to the perception of rigged
elections and imposition of leadership from Delhi. The situation was
particularly critical in the 1980s and got worse in the 1987 elections, which
are now considered by most as being unfair and being the principal cause of
triggering mass resentment.4 While
the state has been administered by successive elected governments with
interregnum of rule by the governor, the leadership has been exclusively from
Kashmir, starting from Sheikh Abdullah followed by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad,G M
Shah, followed by Farooq Abdullah again, Mufti Mohammad Sayyed, Ghulam Nabi
Azad,  Omar Abdullah and now  Mehbooba mufti syed. Ghulam Nabi Azad has
been the only exception, hailing from Doda region in Jammu. No doubt, many of
these leaders are seen by Kashmiris as fostered from outside the state, but
this is peculiar to democracy in India, where chief ministers, be they of the
Indian National Congress (INC) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and others,
are nominated by the Party High Command from Delhi, rather than through a
process of selection by the elected members of the legislative assembly.
However, in states like Kashmir, where people’s perception is important,
allowing the members of the state legislature of the party seeking power to
elect their own leader as the chief minister may create positive perceptions.

6.       Article 370 & article 35A.  The state of Jammu & Kashmir has been
given special status under article 370 in the Indian constitution and the
provisions of the article were further strengthened with Article 35A by giving
special rights to the permanent residents of J&K. These provisions have
over the past fifty years have created a sense of divide among the mass of a
Kashmir and mainstream India. This being one of the major factors which are
impacting the operations of Indian Army under Op Sadbhvana to connect the
populace with the mainstream India wherein the local population does not want
to associate with the programs as they take it as an initiative to curb
dissolve the special rights to the Kashmiri people.

7.       Regional diplomacy.        Kashmir 
state can be clearly divided into three main regions ; Jammu, Srinagar
& Ladakh region. Each region holds different demographic profile, culture
and traditions. The situation also in these regions varies to a great extent,
the areas in Kashmir valley had faced the main brunt of the militancy however
the situation in the Jammu and Ladhakh region has reached to the state of
normalcy.  The population  in the regions of Jammu and Ladakh  have responded in a great manner to the Op
Sadbhavana and the perception management initiatives by the armed forces have
achieved a substantial success. So it appears clearly that the regional
dynamics is also a factor which impacts the perception management activities.

7.       Militancy
in Kashmir.      Militancy is genesis of all the
issues, on a low level, manifests itself through the rise of unfulfilled
aspirations of the people vented in the form of agitations, and on a higher
level, through terrorism. Protests are mainly due to failure of the
administration to deliver socio-political palliatives to meet the hopes of the
people. The Kashmiri people have had a series of grievances – real, imaginary
or manipulated – which has led to loss of faith in the government over the
years, leading to militancy. The government has made amends through positive
discrimination, which is being perceived by people of other regions of the
state, namely Jammu and Ladakh, as being inequitable. On the other hand, an
external state, Pakistan, has effectively used this dissent to its advantage.

8.       There are
many interpretations of the conflict in Kashmir as terrorism, insurgency,
militancy or proxy war. Of this, ‘proxy war’ would be the most appropriate
definition. Proxy war entails involvement of a third party and is a major
variation from a spontaneous militancy. Implementing WHAM is far easier in
militancy than a proxy war. For in the latter, the power and resources
available to the third party state – Pakistan – is effectively employed not
just to fan militancy but also to counter WHAM employed by India’s forces.

9.       The second
aspect of fighting proxy war in Kashmir is the application of the Foco and
Detonator theory consistently by Pakistan. The Foco theory was most
successfully espoused by Fidel Castro and his mentor Che Guevara in Central
America. In the context of Kashmir, Julian Schofield calls 8.

 10.    “Tribal Focoism”, where Pakistan has
consistently relied on the Pashtuns as “imported itinerant insurgents” for
raids since 1947.14 In Kashmir, volunteers and armed bands have been time and
again used by Pakistan for its designs in the state.15 The most significant use
of Focoism in the current context is the use of “demonstrative acts” to
mobilise the population for civic agitation related to the Amarnath land
issue.16 The next phase of Focoism to keep the militancy alive may be in the
offing with infiltration by well trained and equipped militants reported in
March 2009. It is evident that as the embers of dissatisfaction die down in
Kashmir, the efforts by Pakistan to fan them would be increasingly more
violent.

Pakistan’s effective use of Foco strategy is also obvious
with the successive shift in support to militant groups operating in Kashmir.
While in the initial stages, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was
the primary arm of this strategy, it went on to raise the Hizbul Mujahideen
comprising militants from J&K, and later depended on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)
and LeT, along with others, such as Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) comprising
primarily terrorists from Pakistan to sustain the militancy. At each stage,
when a particular group was not found serving the purpose of the masters,
another was inducted to ensure that overall thrust of the insurgency remained
Pakistan-focussed.

The Detonator theory, on the other hand, postulates that
nascent and potently emotive causes should be exploited at the right moment,
under appropriate circumstances. Ironically, this factor has thus far received
insufficient attention in the counter-militancy deliberations.

Modern insurgencies function as social networks. Peer
factors play an important role and a study of a network map is important to see
how militancy operates. With modern technology, such networks can have very
complex linkages, which are facilitated with ease, representing the
“transdimensional and transnational nature” of insurgencies as per Hammes.
Studying human links in terms of charisma and will is also considered significant.
This will reveal the connections of militancy and proxy war to government
sources, agents and others essential for planning a WHAM campaign.17 There is
support for social network approach from other writers like Brian Reed, who
indicate that network analysis provides a new way of thinking.18 This paradigm
seems to offer a way of resolution that can be studied through social patterns
connecting each member.

Terrorists and their supporters in Kashmir operate in
small groups dispersed across the state, and communicate and coordinate actions
through diverse sources such as radio programmes, text-messaging, chain e-mails
and so on. They do not need a central headquarter or a leadership base and have
a flexible organisation like classic networks.20 They rely on social
association for survival. Thus, counter-insurgency operations also have to
operate as counter-networks, and WHAM would best work by addressing these. Each
network needs to be studied in detail to establish interlocking grids based on
common ideology, ethnicity and so on.

The reasons for youth in Kashmir joining militancy are
manifold. Asurvey published by General Arjun Ray during the peak of militancy
in the mid 1990s indicate that 44.5 percent of the youth joined due to
coercion, while 45.5 percent due to a deep feeling of hurt and alienation as
well as economic deprivation.21 While appropriate data is not available at
present, a survey of the youth taking part in the agitation against the
Amarnath land transfer indicates that a number of them continue to feel
alienated, despite reduction in overall level of poverty in the state.

Economic growth is seen to benefit few and there is a
large body of youth who are deprived of jobs. They can be easily mobilised for
agitation in the state. Equitable growth across different societal layers is a
constitutional mandate; its translation to the grass roots has not taken place
across the board in J&K. Here again, remedial action will take some time,
but clearly, there are parallels across the country and the situation need not
be seen as being peculiar to Kashmir. Perception-building to avoid a feeling of
exclusivist discrimination unique to the state is, thus, essential.

 

 

1
Kashmir chapter 5 page 96

2

3
Kashmir page 18

4

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