General elections are the flavour of the Indian nation this season, and this is not without reason as the largest democracy of the world keeping its tryst with the guiding principles of representative governance is ready for its 16th Lok Sabha elections. But, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir this electoral process will have a different dimension altogether as, the overwhelming desire of the people to participate wholeheartedly will be opposed with an equally sinister determination of powerful forces to derail the election process in the state.
The disruptive forces in Jammu and Kashmir are expected to resort to every conceivable method to create a situation in the state that would make holding elections an uphill task for the security forces. Increasing terrorist activities; instilling fear among the people by ominous boycott calls; issuing open threats to life and property; causing social disruption through a chain of lockouts and mob frenzy of stone pelting are some of the methods that will be employed to scuttle the elections.
The disruptive forces will go overboard to create an impression that elections are being held under the shadow of military might, and will highlight perceived human rights violations by security forces to lower the morale of the security forces.
However, the ground reality is that security forces will keep a check on all such propagandas and misinformation that the disruptive elements will attempt to spread. Under the stewardship of the Indian Army, the principles of the policy of the nation of “zero tolerance to human rights violations” have been implemented in letter and spirit.
Since 2013 onwards no case of human rights violation or collateral damage during anti-terrorist operations has been reported in the state. Security forces in the state are very conscious of the need to safeguard lives and property of civilians under all circumstances. And all anti-terrorist operations are being conducted on the basis of better and timely intelligence that facilitates comprehensive planning for the operation.
Maximum thrust is on joint operations that will have the army, Jammu and Kashmir Police and paramilitary forces work in tandem with the active involvement of the people. Another credible policy is differentiating between local and foreign terrorists.
While all attempts are made to establish contact with the local cadre and motivate them to surrender, the foreign terrorists are hounded till their very end! And this has established trust levels between the common man and the security forces.
Better planning has ensured that collateral damage is avoided and better intelligence has ensured that terrorists are eliminated with clinical precision, and the public actively help forces conduct operations.
The end result has been a formidable elimination of the terrorist leadership and recovery of huge caches of arms. Involving local people while conducting anti-terrorist operations in the valley have made the terrorists desperate. In order to demonstrate their credibility and capability they have increased the number of attacks but, quite clearly, their sting is missing.
Now, no longer do we have terrorists roaming around with flowing beards, wearing Pakol (Afghan cap) and carrying an AK-47 with aplomb. The terrorists today are clean shaven, jean clad, armed with pistols and riding two wheelers. They look for an opportunity to target security personnel on duty to garner media attention to register their presence, and are expected such tactics during elections. Infact, unrelenting support is flowing from across the border to further the agenda of disrupting elections in the state. The recent fidayeen attack in the Jammu region provides ample proof of this support.
Hence, security during elections will undoubtedly pose the biggest challenge to the electoral process in the state. But the forces state are well prepared to meet all challenges that the divisive forces would throw towards them..
Faith and trust within the security forces and the people of the state will continue to be the abiding strength of anti-terrorist operations and management of security in the state. At this crucial juncture there is also a need to ensure continuity. No changes in the present set up would be advisable during the parliamentary elections. And all officers and functionaries who were involved in the creation of the existing environment should be allowed to steer till the end. n