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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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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