New Delhi has done well to take a tough stand on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, ruling out talks with secessionists as long as stone-pelting and other forms of violence continue in the State. Terrorists/insurgents/agitators rarely give up when they feel that a Government is on the retreat and will surrender to them if kept under sustained pressure. In J and K’s case, it is not just this fact that holds good. Pakistan’s military
controls the secessionists, who will do what it wants them to do. That the Pakistan Army does not want any solution that does not give Kashmir to it, hardly requires any
That there is no alternative to a tough line, becomes clear on considering that the troubles in the valley have three constituent elements – mob violence; mainly in the form of stone-pelting, Pakistan’s assistance to the separatist elements in the form of money and propaganda, and its cross-border incursions meant both to boost the morale of the secessionists as visible indications of Pakistan’s commitment to support them, and keeping a large number of India’s security forces tied up in J and K, thus hindering their deployment elsewhere both against the Pakistan Army and Islamabad-sponsored terrorist groups active in places like north-eastern India.
The J and K Government’s record in controlling violence in the streets, especially stone-pelting, has been dismal. The Army would not have had to step in and disperse violent mobs with pellets – with the most tragic consequences, if the State police could do that through the use of water cannons, tear gas, and cane charges. If it has been grossly remiss in this, so has it been in taking preventive measures. There has been, particularly, no effective cordon-and-search operations involving the army cordoning off specific areas and both army and police personnel going into these, house-by-house, arresting known supporters of terror and mobilisers of mobs, and holding them in preventive custody till the street violence subsided. This approach yielded good results in curbing West Bengal’s fearful political violence in 1970-72.
It is well-known that Pakistan assists secessionists in the form of money and propaganda. The former is provided in three ways – direct supply to leaders or their agents from the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi; channeling through thehawala route; and incursions across the Line of Control/International Border. Money from Pakistan’s High Commission in Delhi is reportedly handed over at the High Commission premises or sent through its officials or agents. On one occasion at least, a secessionist leader was caught carrying money from Delhi to J and K. There are reports, however, that the process continues and mainly because the secessionist leaders and/or their agents are free to visit Pakistan’s office, and effective restrictions on the movement of High Commission staff outside the Commission establishment, are absent.
Dealing with cross-international border/ Line of Control transfers is a part of the general business of curbing cross-border infiltration of terrorists, involving both their interception at the border and subsequent apprehension, within this country, of those sneaking in. There has been some success in this regard but not enough since intimidation by terrorists and secessionists is causing sources of information to dry up. Cross-border incursions by Pakistani forces, the third constituent of the volatility in J and K, is unlikely to end in the foreseeable future, given not only Pakistan’s obsession with annexing Kashmir but its strategic goal of dismembering and cutting India down to size by supporting and fuelling insurgencies in the north-eastern and other parts of the country. This goal has been elaborated in the book, India: A Study in Profile, by Javed Hassan, who retired as a Lieutenant General. Representing a study conducted for the Pakistan Army’s Faculty of Research and Doctrinal Studies, Command and Staff College, Quetta, it was published and distributed by the Services Book Club, Rawalpindi. All this lends it the unmistakable stamp of official approval.
India will have to contend with continued Pakistani efforts to promote and support insurgencies and keep J and K on the boil, until Islamabad abandons its goal of dismembering this country, which it will do only when New Delhi pushes up the cost of such misadventure to an unbearable level. Meanwhile, firmness has got to be the word for J and K. Agitations arise from anger and are sustained by hope of success. Once the latter disappears, agitations begins to collapse. Violence will subside in J&K when the secessionists realise that they can never succeed.
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