Back of the Book
It is better to have one battalion of well trained and motivated anti-terrorist commandos than five ordinary armed police battalions.
What will really determine the destiny of the state will be the destiny of the state will be the manner in which the political and the latter its dysfunctional manner of functioning, then another cycle of violence is bound to ensue.
With enlightened and resolute leadership and some practical and innovative steeps, a mutually acceptable compromise can be worked out that out that will restore the harmonious relationship which was the hallmark of the two communities in Kashmir.
The security forces are merely an instrument of enforcing the political will. If the solution to the problem is political, the depressing fact is that root cause of the problem is also political.
Only an efficient, honest, professional and de-politicized police force is capable of providing a sense of security to the common man on the street. The police force needs to be diligent and fair in its dealings. Only then will the force be able to enjoy the trust and confidence of the citizens.
Increase in force levels has always been as a direct consequence to an aggressive to an aggressive action by a belligerent neighbour. It is axiomatic, therefore, that de-induction can only take place when the threat perception reduces. For that to happen, improvement in relations with Pakistan and China is a necessity. It would take a very fool hardy leadership to agree to a troop pullout, thereby weakening the defensive posture, in the absence of tangible and credible measures and assurances from across the borders.
The military is part of the solution and not the problem. By and large people still have faith in the military. Policing intelligence should be the backbone of our efforts.
The Security Forces have performed commendably in Jammu and Kashmir and have been singularly successful in containing insurgency to such levels that it has been possible to conduct free and fair elections and to restore life to a state of near-normalcy. Despite sterling results, reduction in troop levels on ground is not that visible for lack of a detailed study to ascertain the exact quantum and nature of troops that can be dispensed with given the current situation.
Kashmir: Towards Demilitarisation is a seminal effort towards the understanding of the military nature of the Kashmir problem and working out a reasonable requirement of numbers and type of uniformed personnel to be responsible to maintain law and order and he to combat the residual insurgency.
Brig Pramathesh Raina halls from a Kashmiri family and thus has an intimate knowledge of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery in Jun 1971 he was baptized by fire in the Indo-Pak War the same year. He has had a number of tenures in Jammu & Kashmir, two of which were highly eventful; the first in 1989-90 when he was witness to the tumultuous events of that period resulting in the exodus of an entire community from the land of their birth and the onset of a violent and bloody insurgency; and the second a decade later as a Brigaed Commander. He retired from the Indian Army in 2007 and is settled in Pune.
In service and thereafter, he has been a prolific writer and has written on subjects as diverse as short stories, essays, security and defence related topics. He is presently working on a book on Kashmiriyat.
He is married and has two children.
At the outset, I must compliment the author for having venture into uncharted waters. Much has been about the “Kashmir Problem” and many solutions have been put forth. The topic of demilitarisation of the state figures in practically every discussion on Kashmir. However, no one has yet got down to mentioning in specific s to how this aspect should be approached and what numbers and type of troops would constitute this demilitarisation. To that extent, this endeavour is praiseworthy.
Jammu and Kashmir is an international hotspot. Four wars and a major conflict have been fought in this region since independence. A full scale insurgency arose in the nineties. It took a considerable effort from the security forces to quell the same. Pakistan spares of effort and money to keep stoking the fire and fomenting trouble both in the State and in the rest of India. India has paid, continues to pay, a heavy price in terms of loses of manpower and finances. There is now little doubt, in international circles, on the legality of the Indian position on Kashmir, a far cry from the past decades when the very presence of India in Jammu and Kasmir was being questioned, particularly by the West. Though India is trying its level best to universally expose and ostracize Pakistan as a global sponsor of terror, it is equally important for us to keep our own house in order. We cannot afford to antagonize any section of society, regardless of religion, to such an extent that it takes to arms against the legitimately elected state. And though the action to take up arms against the state is illegal, it is also a reflection of the failure of the state administration to address the grievances of the public. Tackling such issues requires sagacity, a sensitive approach, tact and a willingness to set aside egos; to be willing to be willing to stoop to conquer. Alas, that breed of statesman in today’s milieu is rare indeed!
Brigadier Raina has rightly identified the fact that demilitarisation by itself will achieve nothing; it has to go hand in hand with improvements in administration, quality and nature of policing, intelligence gathering capability, opening up of the civilian space and so on. He has attempted to think out of the box, thus a number of his recommendations may raise eyebrows in the corridors of power. He is blunt, within the limits of acceptable language, in his poor opinion of wily politicians and pliable bureaucrats. Many of the measures he has recommended to be adopted are definitely implementable; some are utopian. One cannot expect human nature to change overnight. Politicians will continue to indulge in chicanery; bureaucrats will continue to defer to the will of the politician even against their better judgment; corruption will not be eradicated so easily; the odd police man will continue man and the occasional violation of human rights will occur. However, it is evident that the ray of light has begun to dawn upon all those responsible for the administration. One can see an honesty of purpose in the manner in which the Chief Minister and his team are tackling the governance of the state. Reconciliation and getting the entire population, including the fringe elements represented by Masarat Alam and his ilk, involved in the rebuilding of society appear to be the guiding lights by which the Mufti is approaching his task. That is not to say that his methods are flawless and without controversy, but the overall effort seems sincere.
The insurgency movement in the State of Jammu & Kashmir is now in its third decade. The speed and virulence with which the insurgency started and gathered momentum caught even seasoned Kashmir experts by surprise. Kashmiri youth had crossed the LC in droves to receive training in arms at camps in POK and returned from there filled with the fire of Azaadi and hatred for all things Indian, with special venom reserved for the Indian Army perceived to be the main obstacle in the path to Azaadi. The general propaganda fed to the people in the winter of 1989-90 was that an independent of state of Jammu and Kashmir was imminent. People were led to believe that come spring when the passes opened, the Pakistani Army would walk into the Valley riding roughshod over the Indian Army and assist in the formation of “The Islamic Republic of Jammu and Kashmir”
This optimism was not without logic. If one considers what was happening across the world during that period, one would see that this was a period of spectacular liberation movements across Europe and Asia. This period also coincided with the arrival in South Asia of 24x7 television coverage via satellite. The collapse of the USSR and demolition of the Berlin wall was witnesses by billions the world. So also was the fact that a crowd of 70,000 people demonstrating on the streets of Bucharest could orchestrate the fall of the highly unpopular Ceacescu regime. Closer home, we saw the overthrow of the monarchy in Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini followed some years later by the ouster of the Soviets from Afghanistan ostensibly at the hands of a motley band of Taliban (assisted in no small measure by the US and Pakistan, but the credit mostly, in public perception, went to the Taliban, perpetuating the myth of the Afghan super-guerrilla).
These event s, especially in Iran and Afghanistan, had an electrifying effect on the minds of the Muslim world in South Asia. Three points from these developments made an impression on the minds of the anti-India elements in Jammu and Kashmir:
If you are able to gather in impressive numbers on the streets, your cause gets automatic legitimacy.
Constant media coverage will deter the governments from taking strong measures.
With adequate support in terms of training, bases, logistics and arms from a willing sponsor, an indigenous force of guerrillas should be able to overthrow the established government.
Pakistan was quick to grab the opportunity and found willing agents in the Valley to further their long standing aim of wresting the State of J&K from India. The separatist leaders were promised the moon and they fell for it. Enough has been written on the events that followed and the depths of despair that the State and its citizens sank to when the terrorists were ruling the roost and enforcing their writ in every walk of life, be it dress code or recruitment to their ranks, during the 1990s till the early years of the new millennium, by when the Indian Security Forces had regained the initiative and the situation was brought back to a state of near-normalcy by 2006.
The situation called for tough measures and the Indian Army responded accordingly. They had to start from scratch, which is surprising since jammu and Kashmir has always been the arena for power politics between the three countries in the region viz India, Pakistan and China. Four major wars have been fought in the region. The state has been a hotbed of intrigue and conspiracy. Mambers of the secret services of all three countries are constantly and actively engaged in collection of intelligence and monitoring the movements of each other’s armed forces. However, the possibility of an armed insurrection by the locals on the Indian side obviously had not figured prominently on the Indian list of contingencies to be prepared for.
It was a glaring lack of knowledge of what was happening on the ground and inexcusable. To say that the Indian intelligence apparatus was caught flat-footed is an understatement. The only explanation that can be offered in their defence is that they did not think that the Kashmiri peasant (for centuries, contemptuously dismissed as a coward, more on that later) had it in him to challenge the mighty Indian war machinery. Possibly recent history also lulled them into a false sense o f complacency since in two previous attempts, i.e. 1948 and 1965, the Kashmiris had refused to collaborate with the tribal intruders and the Pakistani infiltrators and turned them over to the authorities.
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