3 Army Divisions For 300 Terrorists In JK But No End to Violence: Certainly the Answer Does Not Lie in Force
the issue of Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of Army Day the Army Chief General
Bipin Rawat asserted: "In the schools in Jammu and Kashmir, what teachers are
teaching should not be taught. In schools in J&K, there can be seen two
maps, one of India, another of J&K. Why do we need a separate map for
J&K? What does it teach the children? Most misguided youth come from
schools where they are being radicalised."
The implications of this statement are several, but reading from other
statements by the good general and the touted discovery by the NIA (National
Investigation Agency) that the agitating Kashmiri youth have been bought by
Pakistan, is the good general implying that the Indian writ in Kashmir is so
slim that it doesn't run even in the state's educational system? Expectedly
eminent members of the present ruling coalition in the state have reacted with
Yet although it might be argued that such a statement was beyond the Army
Chief's brief and the discretion of making such a claim by one in high
authority justifiably questioned, it must sadly be conceded that what Rawat
implied regarding Kashmir's education system has some truth. Although hardly
for the reasons that he has cited.
The fact is that the leadership of the discontented, even radicalised youth
including the young Burhan Wani, whose death triggered the wildest agitation of
all, springs from among the educated cream of Kashmir's youth. Wani's own
father, as is well known is a highly respected former headmaster of a
government school in Tral.
Set this against the fact that Sameer Rashid Bhat, one of only two Rhodes
Scholars from India for 2018 is from Kashmir and so are a host of successful
young aspirants, men and women, for the All India Civil Services. Shah Faesal
stood first in the UPSC examinations in 2009. Thereafter a number of Kashmiri
girls and boys continue to qualify handsomely in the IAS and other services.
It is not surprising that the objective of all these youth, including those who
have turned militant, is to serve their people who they have seen passing
through decades of suffering since the aborted insurgency of 1989-90.
But while those choosing the route of service have sought to achieve this by
themselves becoming instruments of governance there are those like Burhan Wani
who feel that they can do so only by suborning what they see as oppression.
In March 2016 I had toured town and village in South Kashmir widely and taken a
ride in the shabby train from Srinagar to Baramulla in advocating the use of
the RTI, which had been extended to J&K in 2009. This was for the promotion
of transparency and accountability, the two lynchpins of openness in
I was struck by the pervasive calm.
Burhan Wani was talked of at the time as being admired by many of the youth,
but hardly as a threat. There were indeed confrontations between the security
forces and militants and the latter were obviously better trained, but hardly a
match for our soldiers or policemen.
The killing of Burhan Wani in July 2016 however brought cascading violence that
engulfed the valley, upsetting altogether the trend towards peace.
Today, while there is a veneer of calm, violent encounters are frequent, with
public involvement not seen before. Youth are once again increasingly taking to
arms. And while we have three Divisions of the Indian army, one of the finest
armies in the world, deployed in the troubled state and the best estimates
number the terrorists as less that 300, we seem unable to bring an end to the
Had order been restored as official spokesmen claim, the question arises as to
why the Election Commission of India, after a bloodied nose in the April 2017
by-election to Parliament, has been unable to comply with its constitutional
obligation to hold elections for the Anantnag Lok Sabha vacancy, denying to the
Chief Minister's home constituency its basic democratic right.
Surely then the answer does not lie in the use of greater force but elsewhere.
And government's appointment of an interlocutor amounts to a recognition of
this truth. Critics will deprecate the achievements of the present interlocutor
Dineshwar Sharma thus far. There are those, including sections of the Hurriyat
leadership, who referring to previous failed efforts will be and are dismissive
of the endeavours of an interlocutor. But that appointment is an
acknowledgement even with advocates of the strong arm, that the way forward
must be accompanied by dialogue.
The Kashmiri leadership would therefore do well to give peace a chance by
entering into dialogue. That would be my own appeal to the Hurriyat leadership.
But while this process might conceivably bring relief from violence, the way
forward must lie in involving the youth in building Kashmir's future, not by
recruitment to a bloated government, but by encouragement to participate in the
development of their State.
The state has vast natural resources waiting to be utilised and huge talent
among an increasingly educated youth. This resource has also ensured that
during the travails of the past two years, although tourism has withered,
prosperity has grown. Their involvement in the economic growth of Kashmir will
enrich the country and give them purpose, carrying the state forward to
showcase India to the world.