Thursday, June 13, 2024
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The resurgence of jihad in Kashmir: An unforgiving analysis

K N Pandita

Traditional infiltration routes through the Line of Control (LoC) have shifted, with some suggesting the use of alternative routes through the Nepal and Bangladesh borders. This presents a new challenge for security forces in preventing militant infiltration across the LoC.
The traditional routes have been plugged resulting in a sharp decline in infiltration attempts. However, the vulnerable crossing points like Krishna Ghati in the Poonch sector or Machail in the Tangdar sector remain vulnerable. It is along these two or three points that sneaking infiltrators have been liquidated and a large cache of arms has fallen in the hands of Indian security forces and J&K Police.
Among the seized arms and ammunition, many items categorized as the most sophisticated weapons left behind by the fleeing Americans in Afghanistan, have been recovered from the possession of infiltrators shot dead at the border or fleeing back in desperation.
After the departure of the Americans, a huge arsenal of sophisticated weaponry fell into the hands of the Taliban; part of it was siphoned off by the Taliban to prospective buyers from Pakistan. Included among them were the jihadists of JeM, the foremost Pakistani terrorist organization that had established close contacts with the Taliban when the US and NATO forces were fighting them in Afghanistan. According to knowledgeable sources, Masud Azhar, the designated terrorist leader is reported to be sheltered by the Taliban of Afghanistan. It is through this channel that these sophisticated weapons were used by the infiltrating terrorists and finally have been seized from them by the Indian forces.
Contrary to official claims, infiltration has not come down only the tactics of the militants have changed. For more than a year, the ISI has changed the tactics of militancy in Kashmir valley for definite reasons.
Two reasons have been premised. Firstly, after more than three decades of militancy, ISI is now confident that militant cadres of locals, meaning Kashmiri Muslims, have come up to their expectations in terms of training and commitment. The idea of jihad against the infidel (kafir) as a religious duty has taken root in the mindset of Kashmiri Muslim youth. The proof is that now not the children of the poor but of the upper middle class and even those from the creamy layers are willingly offering themselves for recruitment as a jihadist.
The father of Zakir (a captured militant) is a retired engineer from government service. His eldest son is a doctor and his daughter is a professor at the government degree college. Zakir had got an engineering seat in Chandigarh. But he had not completed even one year of engineering when he gave up his studies and joined the ranks of Hizbul Mujahidin. It is a top-class family, fairly rich, educated and well-connected. Yet neither their parents nor relatives dissuaded young Zakir from leaving studies halfway and joining militancy. They lionised him for his dedication to the cause of Islam.
The mindset has become so hard that knowing he will meet his end at the hands of the security forces one day, Zakir has taken the risk of his life on the premise that he is supposed to complete the Islamic mission of spreading the message of Allah coming down through the instrumentality of the Prophet.
Secondly, the ISI has suffered huge losses in terms of trained manpower for Kashmir jihad. It was because of the operation ‘All Out’. One of the important reasons for the depleting number of field commanders, generally from Pakistan or POJK, is that Indian security forces are using highly sophisticated monitoring devices, mostly acquired from Israel, which are highly effective in intercepting the messages exchanged by the militants with their handlers in different parts of Pakistan. Because they chatted in either Urdu or Punjabi, both languages were easy for the Indian security forces to decode. The ISI has lately changed its tactics and while the local militants are well informed of local topography and have over ground as well as underground network, they speak to one another only in Kashmiri. Because the messages exchanged are highly sensitive, Indian security forces have hesitation in asking the Kashmiri police for translating these messages into Hindi or Urdu. Local Muslims are not prepared to assist the security forces because of the fear that their identity getting disclosed and they could become sitting ducks for the bullets of the militants. Security forces are discouraged from recruiting the Kashmiri Pandits for this purpose as well because of the lack of trust in them and the hateful apathy that the authorities harbour against them. This is one of the reasons why apprehending the militants before they execute an attack or commit a murder has become difficult. Thus the militants are making full use of smart information technology. Since they operate in small groups, therefore, they suffer minimal loss of manpower in comparison to the security personnel. Recent clashes in Poonch provide a glaring example.
It has to be admitted that almost all people in the valley are the silent cells or over-ground contacts of the militants. The fear of the gun has not gone down rather it has resurfaced. Anti-India rhetoric has become a common practice in mosques in almost all major towns in North as well as South Kashmir. The maulavis (Muslim preachers) imported from UP, Bihar, MP and other places in the country are receiving salaries from the state exchequer but there is no control over what they preach and whom they preach. There is no accountability. It has been found that they exert a profound influence on the youth because they are gifted with delivering anti-India propaganda lucidly. Kashmiri over-ground moles are spread out throughout the entire country, particularly in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
There is no need for any inhabitant of the valley to go to a Pakistani seminary (madrasah) to receive indoctrination because the religious institutions apart, every home is an institution where the kids are imparted the Islamic teachings that are highly controversial and misleading according to many religious authorities of Islam. The Crown Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia has rejected tradition (hadith) as controversial owing to the lack of acceptable authentication but quotes from hadith adorn not only the doors of mosques but even street light poles as well. In every Kashmiri Muslim household, the members of the family rise from bed and go to bed after listening to the vicious anti-India propaganda released from the Pakistani electronic media. There is no control of the government to deny the dissemination of this vicious propaganda. The Kashmiri youth are now convinced beyond an iota of doubt that he or she has to play a role to prove the Quranic statement that Islam is God's choicest religion and it must prevail over all other religions. Opposing the government for everything and anything is the desk rule principle of the Puritans (al momentum) because in Kashmir, it is not an Islamic government but that of the infidels (kafirs) dispensing justice.
Several factors, such as the use of smart technology, operations in small groups, and the reinvigoration of sleeper cells and over-ground workers, have boosted the resurgence of militancy in Kashmir.
Official circles find pride in asserting that there is peace in Kashmir. Tactical withdrawal of fighting forces is part of the game they play. The ground situation in Kashmir is not of silence but of simmering lava. Silence is generally the precursor of an impending storm. The local political leadership is fuelling the flames of hatred, discord and separation in sugar-coated terminology. Even the best of the laws passed by the Indian parliament, the laws welcomed by the vast numbers of the Muslim population in the rest of the country, are unacceptable to the Kashmiri Muslims. To them nothing but the streams of milk and honey flow in Pakistan because that country is made and created through divine dispensation.
Kashmir Muslim leadership of all hues has come out against the concept of a uniform civil code. They label it as anti-sharia, and hence, reprehensible. In other words, they want only sharia law to prevail for the Muslim community. Now assuming that the Muslims of the valley would be comfortable with the sharia law, they should stop depositing their money in the banks that are run by non-Muslim staff and governing bodies. They should stop accepting interest on their deposits whether from a nationalised or private bank. They should stop doing business with non-Muslims particularly the kafirs. They should not send their boys and girls to Hindu professional institutions. Properties like land, shops, houses, orchards etc. which they have purchased from Hindus or Sikhs on throw-away prices are haram (impure} and should be returned forthwith. Mosques raised on lands encroached from temples and Hindu shrines should be declared haram and bulldozed under sharia law. In short, the Islamic theologians (faqih) and traditionalists (muhaddison) of Kashmir should sit down and, while denouncing UCC, they should also draw a list of does and don’ts under the sharia law and promulgate the fatwa immediately.
And lastly, it is no surprise that the Kashmir jihadists have, of late, made common cause with the narcotics and drug peddlers. Pakistani drones (lent by Turkey) are heavily engaged in dropping narcotics, ammunition, arms, literature and Indian currency notes at pre-determined destinations along the LoC ad the IB and conduits receive information digitally to collect these for distribution among the jihadists in Kashmir. Many droppings have been seized and many drones have been destroyed but the practice is at its peak.
This is the ground situation in Kashmir. The valley leadership has, like the early years of insurgency, made a dent into the Indian media. They receive wide coverage of their anti-national utterances couched in a dubious language which suits the sold-out media.
The NDA government has chosen the tactics of pouring mountains of money in Kashmir in the hope that development of mega proportions will convert the people to rationality. It is going against the stark lessons of history. India mind is trishunka --- neither on the earth nor on sky but just suspended in-between.

(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University.Feedback- [email protected])

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