Current Kashmir Situation
Dynamics That Must Define Analysis
The current wave of migration from Kashmir, the attacks on soft targets and such negative developments have led to hardening of negative sentiments in the country regarding Kashmir. The response ranges from anger to a sense of despondency.
While the spurt in violence and the targeted attacks are a matter of concern, it is important to keep the various dynamics in perspective while forming opinion on the security situation in Kashmir.
Security and defense analysts assess that the last phase of insurgency or terrorism is always more violent. Three years ago in Kashmir, terrorists were strong enough to plan and hit security forces or key government functionaries. The attacks were on security forces or on people with security.
Terrorist Capability Down To Untrained Gunmen With Pistols
Slowly that capability has come down to untrained gunmen with pistols. Since 2021, the targeting has shifted to soft targets which included the personnel of JK Police on leave, or the civilians they could brand as collaborators, or minorities.
Especially over the last few months, the targeting had largely shifted to minorities. Security analysts assess that at strategy level, this is a phase which shall pass.
Their advice is that the state must show strategic patience while addressing the current situation. Tactically, the intelligence agencies and the security forces are handling the threat, hence strategic patience of the state shall buttress these efforts.
State Must Defeat Terrorist Strategy, Read Into Their Intent
Equally, the State has to read into intent of the radicals. The State has to ensure that the reaction is different from that expected or hoped by the radicals controlling the gunmen or the terrorists. That will be the way to defeat terrorist strategy.
Right now terror, panic and hurried reactions will play into radical hands. The State must be seen to take slow but firm steps to address the challenge with continued long-term intent to resolve J&K. Hints that the current situation is delaying the restart of the political process may be apt.
With Kashmir, Social Dimension Of Unrest
The response to the current phase of unrest is indicative of the varying levels of radicalization within Kashmir society. The silence of the society cannot be misconstrued as consent or approval. It has to be recognized that the commoner neither has the inclination nor the capability to emerge as the figure of dissent to the terror ecosystem and compromise his or her personal safety.
The killings have deepened terror in Kashmir. Among the radicalized section of the populace, there is both approval and acceptability.
Perspective From Outside Kashmir
The targeting of the minorities in Kashmir has been watched in the rest of India, and is a cause of concern. It may be said that the response of the people of the Valley is under test under full media and public glare of the nation.
Within other states, Bollywood production Kashmir Files gave platform to an old pain point. Many had dismissed it as propaganda. Nevertheless, the movie caused the mobilization of a certain viewpoint on Kashmir.
The silence of Kashmir’s majority’s population in current times may have different visibility and impact than what happened in the 90s. This time, the response of the people of the valley is being closely watched elsewhere in the country. The media glare too is unmistakable.
Response Is Being Watched
The analysis of the response in Kashmir is happening simultaneously. If the Kashmiri society and its political leaders continue to stay silent on the killings of the minority, it may be read as their indicative of their support for these killings.
In the national and global mindspace, the conflict in Kashmir is now being recognized as religious terrorism. There is awareness and also acceptance that the moderates within Kashmir may feel helpless against this stereotyping. In the national and also the global mindspace, there will be stocktaking of Kashmir’s response to the targeted killings.
The Double-Faced Arrogance of The Kashmiri Elites
I have come across comments from men from the top privileged layer in Kashmir that the human resource for nearly 100 per cent terrorism in Kashmir has sprung from the castes that converted to Islam. I have heard some men of the top social classes of Kashmir say with pride that except one or two youngsters over 30 years, no one from their clans has picked up the gun.
The double-faced arrogance is unmistakable.
It is men from the privileged social classes who have driven the anti-India separatism in Kashmir. The resilience of the Kashmiri radicals is driven by this prosperous section of the society that has flourished in the last 30 years. They have made money from terrorism and from government contracts. They have businesses within and beyond Kashmir. They continued to act and speak anti-India (with impunity) while getting rich on Indian soil.
We Cannot Have More Of The Same
This has to change. Exposed radicals, harbourers and those whose children are engaged in anti-India propaganda must fear loss of citizenship rights, property rights etc in India. It should be clear that while dissent has rightful place in a democracy, sedition will lead to loss of protections that a citizen enjoys. This may need legislative action and a focused team to drive this effort over the next three to four years to show impact.
The Ground Situation Shall Reveal Its Own Set Of Truths
The current wave of incidents in the Valley has created a situation where the spotlight is on the Kashmiri leaders, and also on the Kashmiri majority. Some in the security establishment have suggested that this is an opportunity to correct the national and international narrative on J&K. Concerted efforts will be in place by the Indian state and also by Pakistan and its coterie to drive international opinion on Kashmir. Meanwhile, the ground situation reveals its own set of truths which are well-grasped by the commoners everywhere, and which organically form international opinion.