Let alone abrogating Article 370, just considering the move was a big challenge for any preceding government. But the Modi government did it. What's significant is that the protests and mayhem expected in the Kashmir valley has been largely contained.
Why is the generally volatile and reactive population of Kashmir quiet over this momentous development?
The answer may lie in the fact that the government used these elements to its advantage:
- Stone pelters
- The border
For several years, stone pelters, often backed by separatists, were an inevitable part of the valley. They were the main obstacle when the blueprint of the Article 370 move was first laid out by the government. In some ways, they were a bigger challenge for the forces than terrorists since the personnel could not use lethal ammunition.
A Fear of Yogi's Jails
The government prepared a plan to send the youths caught stone pelting, not to Kashmiri jails, but to ones in Uttar Pradesh's Agra and Lucknow.
That mafias have immense influence in these jails is hidden from no one. People have been murdered and assaults are commonplace. This would mean that Kashmiris are likely to have a tough time in these jails. The government's strategy was to instil this fear into the stone pelters.
- According to the Centre, 759 cases have been filed against stone pelters in 2018.
- In 2017 there were 1,261 incidents of stone pelting.
- In 2016 and 2015 respectively, 2,808 and 730 such incidents were recorded.
Using A Festival as A Shield
Bakrid is important to the Muslim population of Kashmir, and the government took full advantage of that.
The government lifted the curfew a few days before Bakrid on 12 August, knowing full well that the population would prefer not to use this occasion for violence and disturb the sanctity of the festival.
Strengthening the Border
Before abrogating Article 370, the Centre was simultaneously working on three fronts; instilling a fear of UP jails, using a festival as a deterrent and strengthening the border with Pakistan.
The removal of special status might have increased tensions at the border, as the Pakistani establishment was sure to react. Perhaps by arranging terrorist infiltration under the guise of a helping hand.
Heavy military deployment at the Line of Control was a measure to check this possibility and put pressure on Pakistan. Even in the states bordering Kashmir, the army was kept on alert for 96 hours.
The strategy seems to have paid off. It kept our neighbour and separatists apprehensive about the Modi government's next move.
(Translated by Viraj Gaur. Click here to read the original article in Hindi)