Kashmir Militancy Continues Unabated as Note Ban Makes No Impact
Image used for representational purposes. 
Image used for representational purposes. (Photo: The Quint)

Kashmir Militancy Continues Unabated as Note Ban Makes No Impact

At the height of demonetisation in 2016, there were interminable queues, a widespread cash crunch, tiny-scale debt mechanisms, and more than a hundred deaths. Amid all that drama, an academic sent me a message from Kerala, asking whether I thought the move would end terrorism in Kashmir.

The government had cited terror funding as a major reason behind implementing demonetisation, and she said she wanted to know what I thought. I did not reply at the time. Despite my cynicism, I decided to wait, just in case the government had more information and analysis to offer.

A year on, it’s time to reflect upon the past year – not just on demonetisation, but also on other dramatic moves, such as the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) probes.

Also Read: NIA Seizes Rs 36.35 Crore in Old Notes in J&K Terror Funding Case

The first thing to note is that broadly speaking, there were no long queues in Kashmir. People seemed to have responded to demonetisation without much panic or distress. This could indicate that, if indeed some bank managers across the country helped favoured customers, the process might have been better oiled in Kashmir.

There is in any case a ‘you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours’ culture of networking, in which ‘contacts,’ neighbours, and even people one vaguely knows are helped.

The second thing to note is that some ATMs were looted in south Kashmir in the weeks after demonetisation. So, militants — and there are large numbers in south Kashmir — had a quick and easy supply of freshly minted notes.

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in 2017, a militant group also looted a bank van and killed the policemen in it.

Perhaps, the most important coincidence of the demonetisation announcement was that it came just as winter set in — and in Kashmir, 2016 brought with it a particularly cruel winter.

Also, the move came within days of the government shifting its base to Jammu, as it does every winter. Unrest in the Valley traditionally subsides at that time.

Also Read: Black Money, Terror & Fake Notes: Did Note Ban Achieve Its Goals?

Sting Operations Reveal Terror Funding in Valley

So, ‘peace’ — at least on the surface — could have been expected anyway, even though the place had been on the boil with demonstrations, barricades, hartals, and a few militant attacks over the previous four months. Indeed, demonetisation came exactly four months after militant commander Burhan Wani was killed, sparking unrest.

The winter remained harsh in April 2017, when unrest returned with shocking intensity during the by-election for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. Eight persons were killed as the forces tried to control violence at polling booths.

Also Read: Note Ban Didn’t Kill Terrorism, Mr Modi. It’s Only a Speedbreaker

That by-election was on 9 April, exactly five months after demonetisation. This made it obvious that, if indeed demonetisation had made any dent in the organisation of mass unrest, the organisers had returned by spring to keel.

The government’s next offensive against those organisers had already begun by then. Sting operations in which interviews were secretly recorded, were apparently carried out in March, although they were aired on TV in mid-May.

Those interviews showed ranking leaders of the separatist movements claiming that they had taken up to hundreds of crores from Pakistan to organise unrest in the Valley.

Also Read: Mr Parrikar, Note Ban Didn’t End Stone-Pelting & You Know That

Fewer Protests but a Rise in Militancy

After these sting interviews were telecast, the National Investigating Agency (NIA), in the first week of June, searched several properties in Srinagar, Jammu, Haryana and Delhi. The NIA has carried out more searches since then. In late July, the NIA arrested several separatist leaders, having questioned them repeatedly over the previous few weeks.

The net result seems to be that there have been very few demonstrations in 2017. Moreover, there have been no barricades manned by teenagers, as there were for four months in 2016.

Also Read: ‘Demonetisation Has Reduced Terror Activities’: FM Arun Jaitley

It is difficult to say, however, whether or not this shift is related to demonetisation, the NIA probes, or the security forces’ success in killing a large number of militant commanders this summer.

What is clear, on the other hand, is that militancy is on the rise. A larger number of teenagers have taken to the field, and large numbers seem to have crossed the Line of Control (LoC).

These trends have resulted in a larger number of militants being in the field than before, despite the significant number that have been killed by security forces.

Overall then, a grave challenge remains on the ground, despite demonetisation and other such steps that the government has taken over the past year.

Also Read: Bandipora: Army Recovers New Rs 2,000 Notes From Slain Terrorists

(David Devadas is the author of The Generation of Rage in Kashmir. 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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