Is Kashmir heading for more violence in days to come?

By Brij Bhardwaj. Dated: 6/24/2019 11:36:03 AM

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Is it the last phase of militancy whose leadership has been eliminated in the last two years by the security forces or the beginning of a new phase of violence, which is more dangerous and more deadly? It is difficult to predict which view will prevail, but there is no doubt that the scale of violence has crossed all limits in Kashmir and the number of causalities has risen dramatically during the last few months.
In the last one week, we lost nine soldiers, and this included an attack on a police post, use of explosive devices targeting a vehicle carrying military men and death of an army major in shooting between militants and security forces. This is happening despite the fact that 115 militants have been eliminated, the highest number in the battle against militancy in Kashmir. One view is that the back of militancy has been broken and forcing them to resort to desperate measures.
On the other hand, there is a popular view that the ranks of militants are growing, with locals joining them in large numbers, besides the entry of foreigners coming from across the border. There is also a change of tactics. The militants are targeting many who they believe are informers and killing them. They not only attack civilians suspected of being informers , but army men on leave, police personnel, home guards and men belonging to the territorial army.
According to army experts, the battle against militants has become more deadly as they have adopted the main weapon of terrorists internationally that is IED, which includes grenades, road mines etc. This would require a change in the tactics of the forces dealing with militancy. For instance, more equipment to detect mines will have to be deployed, transport will have to be upgraded to deal with the new situation and forces trained.
It will require much investment and time. The issue to be debated is whether the use of force is the only option available. Is the option of opening a dialogue with the organisations not involved in violence will reduce tension a viable option? Should we not start talks to reduce tension with Pakistan?
Is it not a fact that Kashmir remained peaceful for years when options like encouraging cross border trade and travel were encouraged?
The hard fact today is that whenever there is an encounter between the security forces and militants, a large number of civilians collect there and indulge in stone throwing, resulting in civilian causalities. The first step in this direction could be immediate holding of elections in Jammu and Kashmir for State to have a popular Government. A gesture has been made by the Hurriyat leaders saying that the pilgrims coming for Amarnath Yatra, next month face no threat from locals, who have always played a big role in making the pilgrimage successful. Attempts to normalise the situation in Kashmir could be a big step in winning over the confidence of minority community, one of the objectives outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With the Lok Sabha elections completed, has the time come to bring about normal conditions in the country and put controversial issues on the back burner and take up big challenges facing India?. A large part of country is facing drought.
States like Bihar are facing an epidemic affecting children. In many places people walk a few kilometeres for a bucket of water. Sowing has been delayed due to poor monsoon. The time has come to put differences between political parties aside and work unitedly for national good.
Maoists present challenges on home ground and Pakistan and China on the foreign front and tackling them and host of issues on home front are formidable and there is no need to open new fronts.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)



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