Emile Zola has significantly observed, ?When truth is buried underground, it grows, it chokes, it gathers such an explosive force that one day it bursts out, it blows everything with it?. For the last two decades, the truth of terrorism and subversion has been bursting in the face of the Indian state with an alarming frequency. But, on every occasion, it has virtually contented itself by wiping out its bloody face with a few pompous declarations, refusing to open its eyes to the harsh reality around. Would the latest terrorism-related carnage at Mumbai impel the Indian state to spot the underlying truths which determine its overall outlook?
The truth is that, of late, a new kind of frenzy and fury has been injected, by way of a manipulated version of Islam, in a sizeable section of the Muslim mind, both in India and abroad. The truth is that the political ethos of the country are largely debilitating and have rendered it incapable of mounting a united and determined assault on the negative an nihilist forces that operate in the society at various levels. The truth is that our democracy is diseased and rests on the shoulders of those who are made of poor clay. And, above all, the truth is that our culture of superficiality inhibits us from locating our disabilities and treating them. Unless these truths are squarely faced, the blood-soaked tide of terrorism and subversion would continue to menace India in one form or the other. Let me explain.
When I was sent as Governor of Jammu and Kashmir for the second time on January 19, 1990, I was told that the administrative and political machinery of the state had totally collapsed under the onslaught of Pakistani sponsored terrorism, and that I should, taking advantage of the good rapport that I had established with the people and bureaucracy during my first term from early 1984 to early 1989, do something to prevent the state from slipping out of the Indian Union.
On arrival at the scene, I found that an extensive network of terrorism and subversion had been spun in Kashmir Valley by the ISI and its agents. The technique employed was the same as employed by the CIA strategists in the Afghan War (1979-89) during the course of which a few attributes of Islam were selectively picked up to arouse extreme fanaticism amongst the Afghans against the godless Russians?. Subversive literature, couched in militant terminology, was distributed in the Valley on a massive scale. A typical example of this kind of subversive literature was a widely circulated cassette which recorded what was called ?Kashmir'sSong of freedom?. In translation, it meant: ?From all directions, the slogans of ?takbir? are being heard. The Muslim of the Valley is as brave as Farooq and Hyder and as courageous as Shabir. The history of the battles of Badr and Uhud is going to be repeated. And we will usher in Islamic revolution in Kashmir?.
Neither the Union nor the State government did anything to counter the emotional manipulation of the Kashmiri Muslim mind. No leader, at the national or local level, even attempted to explain to the people that what was being presented to them had been torn out of context and ?Jehad? had no relevance in a country which provided constitutionally protected freedom of religion. On the other hand, the Jama?at-I-Islami and other fundamentalist organisations, aided by the financial and technical assistance of the ISI, increased their activities manifold and infiltrated deep into the layer of media, educational system and other institutions of governance. About 60 per cent of the huge resources, which had been placed by the CIA in the hands of the ISI in connection with the Afghan War, were diverted by it for engineering terrorism in the Valley.
To meet these grim conditions, a series of firm and innovative measures were taken by me. These included seizure of subversive material, removal of loud speakers from which violence was incited in the name of religion and setting of Special Initiative Squads which functioned on the principle of ?fighting a guerrilla with the tactics of a guerrilla?.
The constraint of space does not permit me to give here detail of these measures. Suffice to indicate, the all-pronged action resulted in solid improvement which was noted by almost all the reputed national deilies. What was written tome by Lieutenant General (Retd.) N.C.Rawlley was still more significant: ?I have had a fair amount of experience of guerrilla operations. Two months ago, I was of the opinion that we had lost Kashmir. Since you adopted the present policy, the whole position has changed. Now I feel that we would not lose Kashmir. For the sake of India, I only pray that you can carry on without having to pull back due to pressures?.
The fast improving conditions, at the ground level, upset the game plan of the ISI and its mentor of the time, Benazir Bhutto. They had come to believe that, within a few weeks, Kashmir Valley would fall in Pakistan'slap like a ripe apple. Frustrated, they mounted a special propaganda ?blitz? against me. Benazir Bhutto came to PoK and started making virulent speeches: ?Jag-Jag-Mohan Ko Bhag Bhag Mohan, Kar Denge?. I wondered why her hysterical outburst was directed against me in person and not against the Home Minister of Prime Minster or President of India. Presumably, she understood that my firm, focused and comprehensive approach would frustrate Pakistan'sdesigns. Her main effort was to ensure my removal from the scene.
Sadly, at about the same time, as if to supplement Benazir's fulminations, an intense campaign of disinformation was launched against me, on our side of the border, by a variety of elements. Some were politically motivated and showed little hesitation in placing petty considerations above national interests, while others betrayed extraordinary weakness for publicity by posing as champions of human rights even when it involved huge distortions. False stories were spun out with impunity and widely publicised. For example, it was stated that the Kashmiri Pundits had been moved out by the Governor so that he could bombard the people in the Valley.
All this blurred the focus of my campaign and injected a sense of frustration amongst the security forces and other agencies engaged in retrieving the situation. I had myself to leave the scene. At that time, Manzoor, a top terrorist of Anantnag, in an interview to the magazine The Week (August 1990) said; ?Removal of Jagmohan raised our hopes. We managed to reinforce and strengthen ourselves.?
What followed is forever body to see. In Jammu and Kashmir alone, over 60,000 persons, mostly innocents, have been killed and millions of rupees spent. The malady that could have a been eliminated by a coherent and animated national will has been allowed to spread to a vast area of the country. All this has happened because we, as a nation, have never developed that sense of clarity and cohesion that is needed for tackling a menace as serious as terrorism. Even now we are not asking ourselves as to why no candles were lit, no procession taken, no angry slogans shouted, when 28 residents of Prankote in Jammu and Kashmir were lined up in early nineties and shot in cold blood.
Had our power-elites in politics, business, academia and media shown care and concern when innocent women and children were being blown up in buses in Jammu and Kashmir by persons maddened by religious frenzy, propped up by the ISI and its agents, terror would not have moved to the dinning halls of Taj and Trident hotels in Mumbai. These elites, instead of facing the central truth at the right time, went out of the way to even rationalise abominable crimes in the name of alienation and human rights, without realising that dissemination of falsehood was a key component of the network of subversion and terrorism. If the truths of the present-day India continue to be buried underground, the Mumbai carnage would not be the last.
(The writer is a former Governor of Jammu and Kashmir and a former Union Minister.)