India: Center’s flawed policies cause tension in Kashmir


by Rouf Fida     October 22, 2021

A picture of a female CRPF checking bag of a small girl in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk went viral on social media in Kashmir. Soon other pictures related to frisking of women in Srinagar started making rounds on social media platforms. For the first time in 30 years, women were frisked by female Central Reserve Police Force constables in Kashmir. Frisking of women in open was not done even in the 90s when militancy in Kashmir was at its peak.

This checking was done in the wake of the recent civilian killings in the valley. Since October 6, 11 civilians were killed in the valley as gunmen targeted Kashmiri minorities and migrant workers.

With airshows over Dal Lake, launching of film policy in the UT, hoisting of Tricolor in every school on independence day, guided tour of European parliamentarian, meeting with political leaders of Kashmir in Delhi, sacking of government employees under Article 311(2), etc., the government immersed in advertising Kashmir normalcy for upcoming UP elections. However, the spate of killings laid bare the government’s claim of normalcy in Naya Kashmir of post-August 5.

Even when Journalists are being intimidated, political leaders are kept under house arrest and separatist leaders are buried in the dark of night, the government still claims everything is normal in Kashmir.

At the same time, the Poonch encounter entered into the 12th day, making it the longest Army operation since 2009. Indian military lost 9 of its soldiers (the most number of causalities in a single operation in recent years) in the encounter.

It looks like either government’s efforts in bringing normalcy in the valley have not been successful or the think tank has failed to analyze the situations and learn from the past. BJP’s direct or indirect policies since 2016 for Kashmir have not produced the desired results for the party. In the past as well, the center has tried to sell policies on the name Kashmir to further their own causes.

Among the three major objectives of the demonetization listed out by PM Modi in his special address to the nation on 8th November 2016, turning funds tap dry for militants was one. Four months earlier to the announcement, Hizbul Mujaheddin Commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces in Kashmir. Killing Burhan was a big success for the government and forces. However, his killing coupled with demonetization didn’t throttle militancy in the valley. According to data collected by officials, the number of Kashmiris joining militant groups in 2017 crossed 100 for the first time since such data started being collated in 2010. According to Army officials, as many as 191 local youths joined militant outfits in 2018, 65 more than in 2017. And in February 2019, 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide car bomb attack.

Around 5 years after the demonetization, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) on Wednesday carried out raids at different places in Kashmir in connection with the terror funding case. These raids establish the fact that the funding objective of demonetization was either a ruse or wrong calculation. clearly, demonetization didn’t help bring normalcy to Kashmir.

On 5th August 2019, when the center abrogated Article 370, Home Minister Amit Shah in parliament said that Article 370 was being used to benefit separatists and militancy in Kashmir and the abrogation will help bring normalcy in Kashmir. But encounters after encounters in 2020 not just in South Kashmir but in Srinagar also don’t substantiate the center’s claim. Though there was a decrease in the number of youths joining militant outfits but there was an increase in the number of attacks on political party workers and leaders. Panchs and Sarpanchs were the main targets. Because of the safety concerns, many BJP leaders and workers were given extra safety or were shifted to safer places.

This year, when the center was all busy selling Kashmir normalcy to save face from the farmer protest, TRF claimed responsibility for recent attacks on civilians in the valley. TRF is a new entrant in the spectrum of J&K’s militancy. TRF is believed to have emerged and floated in the wake of August after the abrogation of Article 370. TRF first appeared at the scene on October 12, 2019, with a grenade attack that injured 8 civilians in Srinagar. So abrogation of Article 370 has also not helped the center to usher normalcy in the Valley.

Clearly, a hard extremist policy on Kashmir by BJP has not worked so far. It has only created further alienation towards democracy in local youths. History has taught us that a relative calm in the valley should not be misconstrued as normalcy.

The spate of killings and increase in violence in Kashmir is sum total of failed policies of Indian government in and on Kashmir.

The central government should get its act together as the incidents of violence never really stopped in Kashmir particularly post August 5. Center needs to come up with a better and moderate policy that aims at solving the Kashmir problem in Kashmir and advertising those policies in rest of the India for other benefits should be avoided.

Local political leaders should be taken into confidence for every major or minor step center takes for Kashmir. Last but not the least, elections should be held as soon as possible and bureaucracy replaced with democracy.