You are here

With Reference to the Context: Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and the India-Pakistan Dialogue

Dr Arpita Anant was Associate Fellow at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile.
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • July 14, 2010

    It is for good reason that excepting for cross-LoC trade and people-to-people contact, Kashmir has been kept out of the agenda of the forthcoming meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan. In the recently concluded meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan in Islamabad on 24 June 2010, when the Indian representative raised her concerns regarding infiltration across the Line of Control and ceasefire violation along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistani counterpart’s response was that they were concerned about human rights violations in Kashmir, the release of political prisoners and withdrawal of the AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir. In all meetings of the two countries, these positions get repeated ad nauseam, and the bilateral talks then move on to other substantial issues. From the Pakistani point of view, there is something to be gained from not negotiating on Kashmir from its current position of weakness. For the Indian side, however, there is an urgent need to confront Pakistan on the issues of infiltrations and ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, especially those that are used to provide cover to infiltrators and end its deniability, much as was done in the case of the Mumbai attack.

    The dialogue with Pakistan stopped after the Mumbai attacks in November 2008. However, the causalities in terrorism related incidents in Jammu and Kashmir have not ceased.

    Year Civilians Security Forces Terrorists Total
    2008 69 34 382 541
    2009 55 78 242 375
    2010* 16 90 120 170

    * Till 15 June 2010
    (Source: SATP)

    A survey of media reports in newspapers based in Jammu and Kashmir for 2010 reveals that although violence levels are down, there are multiple levels at which militancy affects the state. First, there are the twin issues raised by the Indian Foreign Secretary, namely infiltration and ceasefire violations. Hardly a day passes by without an incident of infiltration, encounter with militants or busting of a militant hideout and the many instances of ceasefire violations, which are usually used as a cover for facilitating infiltration. There has been an increase in the number of attempted infiltrations both along the Line of Control and the International Boundary. Unlike the years before, when infiltration would practically halt during the winter months as the snow blocked the passes in the Valley, this year it continued to take place via the mountains south of the Pir Panjal in the Jammu region. Thus, all through the winter months, infiltrations were detected and countered at Samba, Mendhar, Poonch and Rajouri. Come summer, and a major bid of infiltration by ten militants was foiled in Kupwara in the Kashmir Valley. Where infiltration bids could not be detected, there were encounters with terrorists. These terrorists were identified as belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Barring some incidents in which the terrorists remained unidentified, in most cases the identity of militants killed was unambiguously declared, along with details of them being Pakistan-based or belonging to local villages but affiliated to Pakistan-based groups. Excepting the incident involving the Machil encounter, there was no controversy regarding any of the encounters. Militant hideouts were busted and arms recovered from several locations. In the Jammu region, such hideouts of the HM and LeT were located in Reasi, Rajouri, Kishtwar, and Poonch. In the Valley, a LeT hideout was busted in Kulgam and Anantnag.

    There have also been several incidents of terrorist violence against civilians and security forces personnel. Pertinent among them in the current year were the fidayeen attack in Lal Chowk, grenade attack on a security camp at Firdous cinema, attack on the CRPF bunker and RR patrol party in Sopore, HM’s attack on an army patrol party in Poonch, and an IED blast at Pritam Park in Poonch. There were also violations of the ceasefire along the LoC and the IB. In the Samba sector of the IB, there was a ceasefire violation prior to the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries in February 2010, and another violation in the RS Pura sector prior to the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries in June 2010.

    A second related problem is that there are clashes among terrorist groups and in-fighting within a terrorist group. In Laloor forests of Doda district, a district commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Chota Bashir, was killed by a new recruit Abdul Latief as Bashir was forcing him to recruit some women into the HM cadre. Latief, unable to come to terms with the exploitation of women known to him, reacted by killing the militant commander. Explaining the event, police officials said that in Doda, Kishtwar and Reasi, the elimination of several cadres and lack of fresh recruits was leading to clashes between the HM and LeT for control over sources of funding and recruitment.

    Consequently, third, the internal security apparatus of the state is always on alert to meet any terrorist related incident. The police are being entrusted with anti-militancy operations. In an attempt to strengthen the counter insurgency grid of the police, five battalions of police were raised and are undergoing training to participate in anti-militancy operations. Along with assisting the RR units in encounters, they are also involved in tracking and arresting Over Ground Workers (OGWs). Thus, they arrested two OGWs of the LeT who provided them with food, shelter and logistical support in Mahore area of Reasi district. At tremendous peril to their lives, as proved by the foiled attempt at a grenade attack on a village defence committee (VDC) by the LeT in Doda, the VDCs are also constantly engaged in helping the police in these tasks. Working in tandem with the police, they busted a militant hideout in the forests of Shivras in Reasi district.

    Fourth, the judiciary of the state, and elsewhere in the country, is also dealing with the fallout of militancy. The judiciary is involved in long and difficult trials of hundreds of arrested militants and OGWs. In February 2010, a Delhi Sessions court convicted 2 HuJI operatives, one from Jammu and Kashmir and another from Bangladesh, after a two-year trial. Mohammad Amin Wani and Lutfur Rahman were found guilty of attempting to disrupt the Republic Day function in the national capital. As in the case of an alleged OGW of the HM at the Sessions Court in Ramban, it is confronted with petitions for release or bail of OGWs against whom there is strong evidence of involvement in anti-national activities.

    Fifth, the involvement of women and children in militant activities casts a serious shadow over the future of the state. The arrest of 18-year old Mohammad Azam from village Kaprian on charges of working as a conduit for transfer of hawala money, arms and SIM cards from across the LoC is a grim pointer to future generations being lost to militancy. Several women, categorized as B-category militants, are married to militants. Village elders and panchayats in the Doda district are actively engaged in weaning women away from supporting or joining the LeT and HM. In addition, the Department of Social Welfare is faced with the onerous task of rehabilitating orphans and women who are victims of militancy. 1918 out of a total of 6590 widows are widows of militants, and 4749 of 620,413 orphans are children of militants. It would take a lifetime to rehabilitate these victims.

    The foregoing account is not based on classified intelligence documents. It is based on reports in major newspapers of Jammu and Kashmir every single day. It is in this context that the Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had referred to India’s concern that “(T)errorism as a continuation of war by other means, and the use of terrorist groups selectively, as strategic assets against India, cannot and must not continue.” In such a tense environment, it is not surprising to hear of controversies regarding encounters and arrests. Pakistan’s efforts at bringing to book the non-state perpetrators of Mumbai are visible. It is perhaps time for the country to take visible steps vis-à-vis Kashmir too. India therefore needs to put this issue on its agenda and engage Pakistan on this crucial matter. And what’s more, Pakistan’s concerns in Kashmir would perhaps be best addressed if cross border infiltration is stopped!