Why Security Forces Are Viewed Differently In Two Regions
The contact and connect between the security forces and common masses of Kashmir is among the most crucial factors in normalizing the overall situation in Kashmir. Due to the armed conflict, the prolonged proxy war and the challenges before the security establishment, the socio-political and economic factors remain suppressed. The narrative is always about the security scenario.
The state and its institutions have been consistently trying to build an alternate narrative. But the security challenge continues to dominate the discourse locally and nationally. This is essentially because the any eventuality in terms of the security situation is noisy. The other factors – rather the whole socio-political and economic scenario – get lost in the din. The result is that Kashmir continues to be defined by the security situation.
In this context, the behaviour of the security forces vis a vis the local population – and vice versa – dominates the discourse. The connect or the disconnect between the security forces and the local population is what matters the most. It needs to be remembered that the state is synonymous with the behaviour of the security forces vis a vis local population.
The final objective of terrorism is to create a gulf between the state forces and the local population. The state, through its various institutions, attempts to bridge the gulf through various channels. These include the socio-economic upliftment of the general public.
The adversaries of the state are focused on widening the gulf. That is why there are violent provocations. The collateral damage in security operations provides a breather to the adversaries of the state. The magnitude and the intensity of the conflict is proportional to the eventualities through provocation. The confidence-building measures are dealt a severe blow by any irrational response of the state to the provocations by the terrorists.
The violent conflict in Kashmir provides interesting data to the researchers and the scholars who study conflict management and resolution. The behaviour of the security forces (both military and para-military) provides an interesting contradiction when the situation in north Kashmir is compared with that in South Kashmir.
The inputs and observations of citizens reveal that it is not difficult to understand why the interface between the citizens and the security forces is vastly different between north and south Kashmir. The comparison is highly fascinating.
I have been studying the Kashmir dynamics for about three decades. This difference between the patterns of north and south Kashmir has not attracted the attention of scholars and researchers.
There is a moot point here which must be acknowledged. Taking into consideration the geographical and topographical proximity of north Kashmir with Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, this area should have been more disturbed and militancy-infested as compared to south Kashmir, which is comparatively far away from the Line of Control (LOC) dividing India and Pakistan. For decades now, infiltration of terrorists has taken place from the Uri, Machil, Gurez, Tangdar, Keran and Kupwara sectors in North Kashmir.
After crossing LOC through north Kashmir, terrorists move through difficult terrains to south and central Kashmir. Despite this, it is interesting to watch that north Kashmir is relatively peaceful, less militancy-infested and less volatile.
Play Of Different Factors
South Kashmir is more volatile and militancy-infested because of the play of diverse factors. Two major factors here are one, extremist religious indoctrination here. Second, the relationship between the security forces and the common people.
A study of the same factors reveals why north Kashmir behaves differently. The presence of radical extremists in north Kashmir is restricted to a few pockets like Sopore and its peripheries and old town Baramulla.
When we look at the historical perspective of extremist separatism, the big names in the separatist history of Kashmir hailed from north Kashmir. These include Maqbool Bhat and Amanulllah Khan of Liberation Front, Syed Ali Geelani, Mohd Ashraf Sehrai ,Gulam Mohd Sofi of Jammat e Islami, Mohd Akbar Sofi of Mahaz-e-Azadi etc.
But it is amazing to observe that the aforementioned leaders had a much larger support base in south and central Kashmir than their native places. Their support base in the north Kashmir is limited to few pockets. Even today, the religious extremist organizations have a wider support base in south Kashmir as compared to the north.
Distrust, Friction High In South Kashmir
The second important factor which defines the security scenario in Kashmir is the friendly relationship between the security forces and the local population in north Kashmir. In south and central Kashmir, the relationship between the awam and the jawan is strained. It is marked by distrust and friction.
These twin factors of distrust and friction in south Kashmir and central Kashmir’s relation with the security forces has a direct bearing on the security environment in south Kashmir.
In an interaction with KASHMIR CENTRAL, General Officer commanding (GOC) Kilo Force Major Gen SS Salaria observed that the Army in north Kashmir enjoys a highly cordial relationship with the locals. There is a robust working relationship between the Army and the general public. “We are dependent on each other,” General Salaria this
Man’s House Searched, Says He was Impressed By Gentle Attitude Of Search Team
The populace in north Kashmir is largely satisfied with the conduct of the security forces, particularly the Army. While speaking to KASHMIR CENTRAL, Mohd Saleem, a native of Rajwara in Kupwara district said, “I am witness to the gentle and cordial behaviour of the security forces. My house was searched by the Army recently as the forces had reports of militants hiding in my house. The men who came to the spot politely asked for permission to search my house. Their gentleness was highly appreciable. I readily agreed to the search of my house as I had never harboured any militant. They searched the house and left. Before leaving, the official in charge of the search party asked for pardon for searching my house. It was a most cordial interaction on both sides, and I shared this experience with many friends and relatives,” he said.
A civilian told KASHMIR CENTRAL about his recent experience. “I and my friend got stuck late evening at a distant place. The security personal deployed there facilitated our return to home. They were also highly gentle and cordial in their behavior.” Lateef Shah of Baramullah told KASHMIR CENTRAL, “I credit the Army personnel for always being there to help the civilians as and when required. I have observed that 2001 onwards, the security forces have consistently maintained humble and well-mannered behavior with civilians.”
The Contrast In South Kashmir
In South Kashmir, a number of people talk bitterly about the Awam and Jawan contact. It must be admitted that at times, the security forces have maintained remarkable restraint in volatile situations, particularly at the encounter sites. At many places in south Kashmir, the locals talk of the gentle, cordial behavior of the Armed Forces personnel.
But at many places, the locals allege that the security forces personnel are not cordial and gentle in their interaction. A young man from Kulgam who did not want his name to be revealed told KASHMIR CENTRAL, “It is impossible to get a Tavera or Sumo taxi to my village after 6 pm. The security forces put up many naka for security checks. But most of the time, people are harassed in the name of security checks. The main roads which connect to the district headquarters wear a deserted look after sunset. This is because the security forces keep patrolling there. Most of the times, they order the general public, especially the youngsters to remain indoors, as if some untoward incident is just going to happen. We agree that peace is always fragile in Kashmir. But people must be allowed to live a peaceful, normal life on daily basis. Security forces must always keep in mind the human aspect.”
Pulwama Sets An Example
In many districts, one can see clear signs of improvement. J&K police has been liaison factor for a better relationship between the locals and the security forces. Pulwama district can be presented as a case study. The district police have successfully build a very cordial relationship with the locals.
One can see hundreds of locals visiting the SSP’s office daily for the redressal of their grievances. During operations too, the district police assists the security forces to minimize any chances of friction with the people.
The success rate of security operations in Pulwama district during the last one year has been phenomenal. This is essentially because JK Police have built a strong connect with the people, and the Army too has worked on a cordial and people-friendly image.
Talking to KASHMIR CENTRAL, SSP Pulwama Jeelani Wani (KPS) said that people have minimum grievances now against the security personnel because all the belt forces are coordinating in an efficient and cordial manner. “Our motive is to ensure the safety and security of our people and also earn their goodwill. I am happy to say that to a significant extent, we have been successful in this endeavour”.
QUOTE OF PULWAMA SPP JEELANI WANI WITH HIS PIC
“Our motive is to ensure the safety and security of our people and also earn their goodwill. I am happy to say that to a significant extent, we have been successful in this endeavour”.