India’s Dubious Games in Kashmir

Shafkat Raina

In New Delhi before visiting Indian controlled Kashmir, the Indian Defence Minister issued a controversial statement that, “terrorists in the state (Kashmir) can be neutralised with the help of terrorists, why should we do it, why my soldiers have to do it”. The people who are well aware with the counter-insurgency methods that India has been using against Kashmir uprising for the last 25 years understood the dubious meaning deeply hidden in the Parrikar’s statement of “killings” and they easily realised that something fishy is cooking in the minds of Indian agencies. Kashmir insurgency is in its 25th year, in the initial years of the armed rebellion there were about 40000 active militants (who can be compared with a big army of a small nation). That number has at present, according to official data, shrunken to less than 600. Even though India has successfully managed to neutralise the insurgency to a large extent but it has not been able to stop the attacks on its pro-Indian officials, politicians, army and other security apparatus by the Kashmiri militants.

In containing two and a half decade old insurgency in Kashmir, Indian state has used every type of harsh and brute method against the Kashmiri militants and simultaneously against the local population as well. Whether in 1991 when an entire locality of Cheeni Chowk in South Kashmir (Islamabad, Anantnag) was gutted or burning Shaheed Bazaar Sopore on june 2 1990, or in July the same year setting ablaze whole iqbal market Sopore or burning Arampora locality Sopore for three days. The worst was in January 1993, the BSF personnel run amuck after militants took away a light machine gun from BSF personnel. In retaliation of the snatched rifle the outraged BSF men set Sopore town on fire in which 37 residential houses and 352 commercial structures were razed to ashes, 45 civilians were killed mostly roasted alive & 37 civilians got injured in the mayhem(1). Whether it was to rape all the women folk of Kunanposhpora village in Kupwara, irrespective of their age groups or whether subjecting thousands of Kashmiri men both militants and civilians to enforced disappearance whose dead bodies are buried inside the deep jungles of Kashmir valley.

When all the available counter-insurgency methods failed in crushing the zealous Kashmiri rebels, the Indian state somehow managed to break the ice when a large number of Kashmiri militants surrendered before the Indian army and collaborated with them in fighting against the other active militants. These surrendered militants latter came to be known as ikhwanis who where well paid renegades or mercenaries. This renegade group surpassed all the limits of gross human rights violations against the people of Kashmir, as they were answerable to none except to their handlers in agencies. Neither J&K govt nor local police were able to stop their reign of terror. These paid mercenaries proved to be a successful formula for the Indian state. As it is said that iron cuts iron, this formula was aptly used by the Indian state in containing the armed insurgency in Kashmir. These paid local mercenaries gave a fatal blow to the armed insurgency and to a large extent managed to eliminate all the ranks and files of the militants. From upper to underground militants they spared none, even they killed the kith and kin of the militants in order to create a fear psychosis among the local population to stay away from the militancy. But the prime target of this group was a pro-Pakistani militant outfit Hizbul-mujahedin. Hizbul-Mujahedin was an off-shoot of Jamat-i-Islami, a socio-religious, political organisation, although now the latter is denying having any link with the former. But the fact of the matter is that 90 percent of the Hizbul-cadre was from families related to Jamat-i-Islami. In those days Hizbul-mujahedin was the largest militant outfit organisation with largest number of local militants particularly from the villages, which comprised nearly 60 percent of the Kashmir population. In order to break-down the link between the Hizbul-mujahedin and the Jamat-i-Islami, the renegades start targeting Jamat-Islami members which include doctors, professors, human rights activists and teachers irrespective of their age and their backgrounds. Prominent among them was Dr.Mehmood of Dailgam Islamabad (Anantnag), Dr. Gulam Qadir wani of Arin Bandipora a PHD pass-out from prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi. During those days these renegades were the law unto themselves. The unwanted killings of Jamaat members forced them to migrate to far flung areas of Kashmir particularly in those areas where they were hardly known to anyone. When the graph of militancy narrowed down and when the crimes of these renegades got exposed at the various global forums, few sane voices at the international level and various human rights organisations started questioning their constitutional validity. It was an outlaw outfit which operated above the law of the land and which was neither owned by the Indian state nor was accountable to any judicial system for its mayhem and destruction. Finally in 2002 National Conference govt came to an end which decreased a major support for the renegade ikhwanis. The national conference govt. also used and facilitated their excesses particularly against the Jamat-Islami members with whom they have still major differences over various political and ideological issues. The new coalition govt of PDP & Congress adjusted these renegades in police, army and in other counter-insurgency units and many of them left this killing business altogether. Some of them joined politics, few of them managed to enter the state-legislation, like famous renegade, Muhammad Yusuf Parray alias Kuka Parray of Hajin Baramullah and Usman Abdul Majeed of Bandipora as former is dead now, he was killed by the militants.

In Kashmir, India somehow managed to control and contained the militancy to a large extent. By hook or crook India in Kashmir somehow managed to conduct the elections for parliament, state-assembly and for the state local-bodies, which India presented before the world as the substitute for the plebiscite. Now India started boasting this self-proclaimed & temporary peace in Kashmir to the outside world as the return of normalcy in Kashmir and peoples mandate to stay happily with the Indian state. But this fake peace theory crumbled like pack of cards when a small agitation against the transfer of land to a Hindu shrine board turned into a mass pro-freedom agitation all over the Kashmir. Millions of people came-out on the streets demanding an end to Indian rule. The Indian state in order to control the mass rallies and the agitating youth, imposed curfews and strict restrictions across the Kashmir. In the ensuing uprising at least 60 unarmed Kashmiri youth were shot dead by the Indian forces. Finally the state govt cancelled the proposal of transferring the land to the Amaranth shrine board, which manages the affairs of the millions of Hindu pilgrims who visit a cave every year located in the deep mountains of the beautiful Phalagham valley

In 2009 in Shopian area two young girls were found dead on the banks of Ranbir arrah canal overviewed by a police station and by an army camp. The autopsy report confirmed the rape and murder of the two young girls, which enraged the whole valley. People again came-out on the streets demanding an end to Indian occupation. The Indian state again used various brute means and methods to control the agitating people on the streets of Kashmir. On 29th April 2010 three local youths were killed in Machil sector of Kupwara district. After the fake encounter Indian army branded them as foreign militants and on 20th of June after exhuming their dead bodies they came out to be the local youth of Kupwara. On 11th June a school going teenager Tufail matoo was killed by a tear gas shell which struck him on his head, killed him on spot which ignited the already simmering atmosphere in the Kashmir valley. The streets of Kashmir again witnessed the huge protests and strikes against the state oppression. The Indian state as usual enforced a number of curfews and harsh restrictions across the length and breadth of Kashmir. The people again demanded an end to the Indian rule in Kashmir. The agitation continued for about 8 months and in this period around 122 youth most of them teenagers were shot dead by the Indian forces. To malign the image of the protesting youth, one Indian army commander called those protests as ‘agitational terrorism’ and chief minister Omar Abdullah labelled the protesting youth as stone pelters, drug addicts and criminals. In order to calm the international pressure and criticism by various human rights organisations, India once again be-fooled the world community by sending a parliamentarily group which talked with various groups in Kashmir including few separatist leaders as well, but nothing fruitful came-out from these talks. India also conducted few round table conferences with various socio-religious and political groups of Kashmir, but the main pro-freedom group stayed away from these conferences. Till now none of the recommendations of the working groups have been implemented by the Indian government.

As soon as the graph of violence comes down in Kashmir, India starts selling the dream of fake peace to the outside world. Internally Kashmir issue has become an unhealed sore for the Indian state and a severe headache for the Indian agencies. They have tried every wrong, deceit and cruel method to curb and crush the pro-freedom sentiments among the natives of Kashmir valley. At present India and its agencies are not much worried about the remaining five to six hundred militants as India projects Kashmiris pro-freedom movement as the part of the global terrorism network supported by Pakistan as well. What worries Indians in Kashmir are the ongoing street protests which happen every time whenever there is a human rights violation or whenever a protest call is given by the separatist leaders? It’s these daily street based protests that are becoming worrisome for the state apparatus. They booked thousands of boys on stone-pelting charges but there is no end to the ongoing street protests in Kashmir.

India being a close ally of Israel has now started a well planned assassination programme in Kashmir. In Sopore north Kashmir, six men were assassinated by unknown men; most of them were Tehreek-i-hurriyat (TEH) members and former militants. It’s an open truth that, most of the members of Tehreek-i-hurriyat Conference are from Jamat-i-Islami families. As it is said that history repeats itself, but sometimes it repeats itself in a very brutal manner. Again it’s the members of Jamat-i-Islami organisation who are on the radars of intelligence agencies. Presently India cannot eliminate them directly or indirectly instead they have chosen assassins to complete the task. Now the question is why again the members of Tehreek-i-hurriyat or Jamat-i-Islami. It’s a hard fact that on ground level members of Tehreek-i-hurriyat plays an important and active role in organising the protests and other agitations against the Indian state. Tehreek-i-Hurriyat has a broad base network in rural areas of Kashmir that’s why from 2008 to present we have seen an unprecedented number of protests particularly in those areas where TEH has a mass support base. It’s this connectivity and network that Indian agencies want to curtail by creating a fear psychosis among the members of TEH so that they will restrain themselves from taking part in these street protests and agitations which punctures the fake peace theory of India. India’s covert killings in Kashmir is not a new experiment, in order to exterminate any of its adversaries in Kashmir, it can go to any extent, whether it was killing of famous human rights activists and lawyer Jaleel indrabi, who was killed in cold blood after Indian army took him in custody and after few days his dead body bored with tortured marks was found in the river Jhelum. Wajahat Habibbullah an Indian administrative service (IAS) officer for thirty years in Kashmir was also divisional commissioner of Srinagar during the 1990’s when militancy was at its peak. Wajahat in his book, “My Kashmir, conflict and Prospects for Enduring Peace” has disclosed how Dr. Guru an eminent cardiologist and a JKLF leader was covertly assassinated by the Indian agencies, Habibbullah writes: the police made an arrangement with the terrorist Zulkarnian, then in custody, who agreed to kill Guru in exchange for his release. But to ensure that this collusion remained secret, Zulqarnain was killed shortly thereafter, and the Director General of police, B.S.Bedi, trumpeted his death as a triumph for the security forces, who had killed a dangerous terrorist in an armed encounter, the police stormed the home where, under the mistaken presumption that he was safe after having fulfilled his end of the bargain, he was consorting with a lady friend (2). This single incident is just a tip of an ice-berg of the series of covert killings of pro-freedom people in Kashmir by the security agencies. Another such incident has come to light recently, In his introduction to Madeleine Albright’s new book, ‘The Mighty and the Almighty’, former US President Bill Clinton writes: During my visit to India in 2002, some radicals decided to vent their outrage by murdering 36 Sikhs in cold blood. Soon after this carnage in Chattisinghpora Kashmir, the Indian authorities announced the killers of Chattisinghpora as foreign mercenaries from Pakistan – had been liquidated in a fire fight with the Indian border police. Later under pressure the government was forced to exhume bodies of the branded mercenaries. DNA test confirmed that were innocent Kashmiris of a nearby village arrested from the village earlier by the Indian army (3).

Looking back at the heinous crimes that various Indian agencies have committed in Kashmir leaves no space in accepting this fact that it’s again the Indian sponsored assassins who are behind the killings of pro-freedom activists in Sopore. No doubt India will again deny it but truth will always come out, same way as it came out in case of Pathribal and Machil fake encounters, in which innocent civilians were killed by the Indian army and latter framed them as foreign militants.

1. Kashmir Life, 27 june, 2015.
2. Kashmir Lit, Rafique khan.
3. Ibid.

Shafkat Raina is a Research Scholar based in Islamabad Kashmir. He can be reached at [email protected].

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