Hardcore separatists in hibernation fearing state action, Kashmiris secretly happy

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As noose tightens, anti-state activities see sharp fall in Kashmir 

Sajeeda Rasool

Why are Kashmir’s so called hardline, hawk-eyed separatists suddenly tamed? Why is it that Kashmir no more suffers shutdowns or hartal calendars? Why are separatists no more holding the state to ransom? It is because the Indian state has now defined that rights in a democracy come with duties. Suddenly, all the government employees, trade union leaders, businessmen and others who were supposedly jumping for Pakistan are aware of the red lines in Kashmir.

What you allow to grow – grows. This universal principle has defined competitive secessionism and separatism in Kashmir. For decades, the Indian state gave a long rope to individuals engaging in blatant anti-state activities. Lack of state action emboldened them more and more.

The world suffered lockdowns after Covid. But till a couple of years ago, separatists in Kashmir had made the common man’s life miserable with their constant shutdown calls. Kashmir had been familiar with lockdown for years.

All economic activity was stalled. Educational institutes were closed. Life came to a grinding halt because of whimsical orders by directionless separatists. Kashmiris wanted to get on with normal life. But nobody could afford to speak up, because the shutdown diktats were enforced by terrorists. Mafiadom and goonda raj was called resistance.

The separatists, meanwhile, enjoyed a luxurious life. They received huge hawala money funding through different channels and conduits. They were being lavishly funded for causing disruption in Kashmir and waging war against the country.

In July 2019, an investigation by NIA on JKLF chief Yasin Malik stated that Malik had strong links with Pakistan’s ISI. He had been showered with funds by ISI to create trouble in Kashmir, and had amassed properties worth more than Rs 15 crore. The NIA stated that some of these properties included government land grabbed by Malik. NIA is probing cases of terror funding by Kashmiri separatists.

Yasin Malik told NIA separatist leaders made huge wealth by keeping Kashmir on boil

After abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A, the National Investigating agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and CBI tightened the noose around these separatists. Suddenly, the graph of violence saw a steep fall. The custodial interrogation of JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, J&K Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) chief Shabir Shah, Masarat Alam and Dukhtaran-E-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi revealed clinching evidence of how they fuelled unrest and organised violence in Kashmir.  Masarat Alam was the prime organizer of stone-pelting protests of 2016.

As per NIA sources, Yasin Malik admitted that the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) and Hurriyat Conference headed by Syed Ali Geelani collected funds from the business community as well as other hawala sources to keep Kashmir on boil. They ensured that economic shutdown and violent protests continue to disrupt the daily life of the commoners. How this impacted the Kashmiris was not their concern.

Note the time when the separatists went into hibernation. It was when NIA, ED and CBI started to investigate their terror links and booked them under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC). Suddenly, the so-called spontaneous violent agitations stopped. 90% stone pelting incidents stopped. Geelani felt the heat after his family members were booked for terror funding. He quit Hurriyat Conference.  There were token voices of protest over the NIA raids, but the Kashmiris were in silent approval. They were happy that these swindlers had been targeted.

Action against secessionists, terror symphathizers in government departments

In many departments of Kashmir, government employees were waging a war against the state. These secessionists and terror symphathizers were enjoying high and assured government salary plus perks. But on social media, they were spreading vicious propaganda against the state and promoting hatred. The harsh stand taken by these persons deepened the falsehood of conflict, driving vulnerable and indoctrinated young men to seek validation in the so-called freedom struggle. After watching the action by NIA, ED and CBI raids on the separatists and terror sympathizers, the numbers of these keyboard jihadis saw a major drop.

For long, the state had given a long rope to these secessionists and terror symphathizers in government ranks. No action was being taken against them in the name of democratic dissent. The realization dawned on the Indian state late that promoting hatred and violence against the state goes far beyond democratic dissent.

These terror sympathizers were consistently engaged in an anti-national campaign on social media. They were trying to create a false and fake narrative by spreading rumours with regard to the security scenario of the Kashmir valley. In December 2017, the Jammu and Kashmir government warned government employees against waging a war against the state, working against the interests of the state and posting seditious content on social media. “No government employee shall engage in any criminal, dishonest, immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct that may be prejudicial to the government on social media,” read an order issued in 2017 by the Commissioner Secretary, General Administration Department.

Government employees were also directed not to post inflammatory content online with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of disrupting normal life.

Services of terror sympathizers terminated

In April 2021, a Special Task Force headed by Additional Director General of Police (CID) was constituted and assigned the task of speedily scrutinizing and screening the conduct of the government employees on social media platforms in a time-bound manner. It was decided that the government employees involved in aiding terror directly or indirectly would be immediately dismissed from service. On July 30, the General Administration Department (GAD) of J&K invoked a special provision under Art 311 of the Indian Constitution for terminating the services of employees or initiating punitive action against them without an inquiry if evidence of wrongdoing was found.

After the formation of the SIT, many government employees who were engaged in anti-state activities sensed trouble. They deactivated their social media handles and accounts. But those who continued with anti-state activities had to pay the price. Recently J&K Lt Governor Shri Manoj Sinha terminated the services of 11 employees found guilty of anti-state actions. Among them were two sons of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, who were involved in anti-national and terror activities.

This is the second such move in recent months. In May, the UT Administration had sacked three government employees for their involvement in terror activities. Among them was a man working in Industrial Training Institute, Kupwara. He was an overground worker of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba. This man was providing information to terrorists about the movement of security forces, and abetting and harboring terrorists to carry out activities in a clandestine manner. Two teachers from Anantnag in South Kashmir were dismissed from service for their involvement in anti-national activities. These teachers were found to be participating, supporting and propagating the secessionist ideology of the Jamat-Islami (JeI) and Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM).

Govt Employees Indulging in Anti-State Activities

The other eight government employees recommended for dismissal for anti-state activities included two constables of Jammu & Kashmir Police. They were found to be supporting terrorism from within the police department. The duo were providing inside information to the terrorists as well as logistical support. One constable, Abdul Rashid Shigan, had executed attacks on security forces. He is in jail for terror activities. Another government employee of the Health Department, named Naaz Mohammad Allaie, had links with terrorist organizations. He was an overground worker of Hizbul Mujahideen and has a history of direct involvement in terrorist activities. He had also harboured two dreaded terrorists at his residence.

Jabbar Ahmad Paray and Nisar Ahmad Tantray of the Education Department, now terminated from service, were actively involved in furthering the secessionist agenda unleashed by terror-sponsors from Pakistan and are Jamaat-e-Islami ideologists. Shaheen Ahmad Lone, an inspector of the Power Department, was been found involved in smuggling and transporting ammunition for Hizbul Mujahideen. Lone was found travelling along with two terrorists on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. In January 2020, he was intercepted by the security forces carrying arms, ammunition and explosives.

The dismissal of employees from service has sent shock waves among terror sympathizers who are serving as government employees. The move of the state has garnered support among the common Kashmiris. People hope that this move will help to bring normalcy to the valley. Kashmiris are happy that the state is targeting government employees who earned fat salaries but were instigating vulnerable youth to take up arms against the state by fanning hatred and distrust.

Anti-State Forces Exploiting The Democratic Space

The people who condemn the Indian democracy, be it the separatists or the so-called unionists in Kashmir exploited India’s democratic space to promote separatism and terrorism. Syed Ali Geelani and other Kashmiri separatists misused India’s democratic space. Similarly Mehbooba Mufti, Er Rashid and many others have consistently exploited the liberties offered by the Indian state to incite the youth for violence.

For decades now, anti-India forces have exploited the intrinsic liberties that provide fair opportunity for dissent. In a research paper that appeared in Journal of Conflict Resolution in 2014, Belgin San-Acka writes: “Democracy encourages terrorism due to the intrinsic liberties and freedoms that provide an opportunity for terrorists to easily organize, recruit, and mount operations. …..one of the contexts in which democracy’s influence on terrorism is examined.

I identify a theoretical mechanism about how democratic states unknowingly facilitate terrorism by letting terrorists freely stay within their borders, raise funds, smuggle arms, and operate offices. The empirical findings provide support for the hypothesis that democracies are vulnerable and can easily be exploited by terrorists since they have an environment conducive to terrorist activities”, wrote Belgin San-Acka.

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