Has The China Threat Spurred Anti-Militancy Operations in Kashmir?
Tally of militants killed in J&K has been rising since early April 2020, and the graph is rising like a COVID chart.
The army and other forces have been picking off militants in Kashmir as if they were picking cherries off a loaded tree. Four were killed on Sunday, 21 June, adding to the (at least) 32 who were reportedly killed in the South Kashmir districts of Pulwama and Shopian alone, in the past couple of weeks.
The tally of militants killed has been rising since early April 2020 (27 militants were killed that month), and the graph has been soaring like a chart of fresh COVID cases.
The sudden spurt this spring is in stark contrast to the autumn and winter of 2019, when the number of militants killed was noticeably lower than in corresponding seasons in the previous two years, that is, 2018 and 2017.
The forces seem so encouraged by this run of successes that the Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir range, recently announced that ‘all local militants in south Kashmir would be killed’ by the end of June 2020, and the forces would then turn their attention to foreign infiltrators.
Shadow of Chinese Threat
There has been much speculation about the reasons for the forces’ recent successes. Some have spoken of increased reporting by locals, others of technical tracking devices, and yet others of the current group of officers in charge of the Valley.
To be sure, a new line-up of officers has taken charge of the army and the police in the Valley since early 2020. A number of IPS officers, who do not hail from Jammu and Kashmir, are in charge of districts.
Senior officers from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, who had held charge over the past few years, were moved out or given sinecures a few months ago. Some of them were deeply entrenched in the hitherto established set-up.
One wonders if at least one of the reasons for this run of successes is nothing to do with any of these, but stems simply from a firm decision finally being taken to end militancy.
This determination could well stem from a realisation that a great threat to national security lurks on the eastern borders of Ladakh. It is, at the very least, a coincidence that this run of successes has spurted in precisely the weeks since the Chinese intrusions have made an impact at several points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
Could it then be that taking down local militancy was always easy enough, but lacked a motivating stimulus?
Some perceptive minds in Kashmir have noted over the years that the continuation of militancy suited various sides in what has become something of a sordid game in the years after 2002, or at least 2006.
If this is true, it could be that the Chinese threat has pushed the powers that be to call an end to what might be called a charade of ‘never-ending militancy’.
Militancy & Anti-Militancy: A ‘Game’ Of Rewards & Awards
I had reported in my first book on Kashmir in 2007, that the army Corps on the ground had devised a plan in the mid-90s to end militancy, but had been told by top officers at Army Headquarters, that the army’s task was to fight militancy, not to finish it.
There has also been speculation over the years that some of the officers who were entrenched in the system in Kashmir would keep track of militants as they committed some terrorist acts, but only neutralise them after those terrorist acts had pushed the reward for their killing to rise to a certain level.
In my book, The Generation of Rage in Kashmir, I have described how those who run the state apparatus and the cheerleaders of the freedom movement both gain monetary and other rewards through the continuation of violence.
Money has flowed in from New Delhi, Rawalpindi, and certain chanceries to several sides in this sordid game, to the extent that it has indeed been something of a bloody game.
I have said several times that the dividing line between so-called mainstream and separatist politicians in Kashmir is an artificial one. The political class across this spectrum, as well as bureaucrats, officers of various forces, intelligence agents, and even the media, have benefited from the continuation of conflict.
Those who have drummed up sentiments for the ‘azaadi’ cause have at times contributed to this game willy-nilly, suiting the covert objectives of those officers who sought pecuniary, careerist, and other benefits from this vile game.
(The writer is the author of ‘The Story of Kashmir’ and ‘The Generation of Rage in Kashmir’. He can be reached at @david_devadas. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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