Until and unless, the terrorists and their terror networks are eliminated, the hope for restoration of peace will remain a distant dream in J&K
Brig Anil Gupta
The reecent successes achieved by security forces in killing over a hundred terrorists during ‘Operation All Out’ have generated a hope that terrorism in Kashmir is nearing its end. However, the past experience shows that terrorism again and again raises its ugly head whenever there is hope of peace. The reason is obvious. Whenever, the number of terrorists goes down, our hostile neighbour with the help of its terror network in Kashmir resupplies them. It is easy for security forces to eliminate a gun-wielding terrorist, but the masked suppoters of terrorists are difficult to be identified and neutralised. The combination of terror sympathisers and anti-nationals needs to be tackled together.
The most visible and active face of terror network in Kashmir is Hurriyat. It is an out-agency of Pakistan. The dual face of Hurriyat was thoroughly exposed when Syed Salahhudin was declared a global terrorist by USA. He is a protégé of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the most hardline Hurriyat leader and patron of terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). Yasin Malik is an ex member of JKLF. Maulavi Omar Farooq also reportedly patronised a terror group. Ayesha Andrabi’s Dukhtaran-e-Millat has introduced the girls in Kashmir to terrorism.
Hurriyat leadership is blatantly involved in terror funding and hawala transactions to sustain terrorism in Kashmir. They not only act as a conduit for money received from the Deep State but also collect funds locally. They also receive huge caches from Saudi Arabia, Gulf nations and Europe, particularly Britain. They have also misused the cross-LOC trade facility, started as a Confidence Building Measure, to generate hawala funds. The recent arrests of some Hurriyat leaders, including close relatives and colleagues of Geelani, have exposed these leaders. I totally concur with Gen Syed Ata Hasnain who has written in a just published article in Swarajya, “Control the flow of illegitimate money, and a separatist terrorist movement is starved out. Neither can separatist leaders, nor high profile terrorists live without luxuries of power that money brings”.
The NIA operations need to be taken to their logical conclusion. In the past as a quid pro quo the Hurriyat leaders have used their influence over the political leadership not only to get out of the clutches of law, but also to obtain many favours for themselves or their family members in the form of property and government jobs, out of turn and without going through the laid down procedures. The huge properties owned by top rung Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir, Jammu, Dubai and other places also need to be investigated, their source of funding determined and confiscated if found illegal. Also, all government jobs obtained through extra-constitutional means and illegally need to be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation because the involvement of the then government in these illegal appointments cannot be ruled out.
The armed wing of over-ground workers is represented by the masked stone-pelters, who instead of wielding an AK-47 pelt missiles in the form of stones at the security forces thus hindering their conduct of ant-terror operations. These are not innocent misguided youth, but hard core paid professionals. These groups are led by the “Instigators”, who are usually good orators and master the art of converting a mob into a violent crowd. They are the lower rung of separatist leaders or religious preachers and can be seen at all sites of stone-pelting. Unlike, the pelters who are paid like daily wagers they are on the permanent pay rolls of the Deep State. They have been allotted areas. Apart from organising stone pelting they are also responsible for spreading anti-national propaganda and radicalism as well.
The next important and most complicated component of the terror network is that of “sympathisers”. They apart from locals who provide shelter to terrorists, include those who manage their logistics like the hawala operators, government officials, policemen, doctors, transporters, lawyers and members of judiciary, politicians, students, businessmen, mullahs and moulvis. The list is endless. This category also includes the highly indoctrinated youth who are always waiting for a trigger or an opportunity to join the terrorist ranks. The youth appears to have sidelined the Hurriyat and taken over the mantle of leadership of the current turmoil. However, the leadership is faceless.
It is a herculean task to identify the sympathisers. But local intelligence operatives and ground level informers of the security forces play an important role in exposing the sympathisers. The readers would be astonished to note the details of huge properties acquired by Hurriyat leaders in Hindu-dominant Jammu region with the active connivance of the sympathetic government officials and machinery. A few IT savvy youngsters also form part of the network of sympathisers who basically assist in exploitation of social media for pro-terrorist activities and anti-national propaganda.
Kashmir”s mosques have always been used for politico-religious ends since 1931, and more recently for separatism since 1989 when the militancy broke out. But the character of the mosque has changed dramatically in the last decade. The clerics are not only using the religious platform to exhort the locals to join the fight for achievement of Nizam e Mustaffa but also promoting terrorism. They are actively helping the terrorists by using the loudspeakers fitted in the ramparts of the mosques for making pro-terrorist announcements and also ordering the local population to assemble near the site of encounter to hamper the CICT (counter insurgency counter terror) operations. Through their rabble-rousing hate speeches at the end of the prayers they create anti-security forces hysteria among the audience. The recent lynching of Dy SP Pandith outside the Jama Masjid on the night of Shab e Qadar is a classic example. To bring an end to terror this nexus between the clerics and terrorists will also have to be eliminated.
Last but not the least the mainstream politicians/ power brokers also form part of terror network. The severity of their involvement varies depending on the fact whether they are in or out of power. They form an unholy Alliance of Interests (AOI) with the Hurriyat in the belief that their political fortune depends on anti-India rhetoric. A critical appraisal of the statements made on daily basis by the Abdullahs especially when the senior Abdullah was canvassing for the Srinagar Parliamentary election will hold testimony to my hypothesis. It is equally true for other valley based politicians, barring a few. People like Er Rashid are having the best of both the worlds. He enjoys the fruits of an elected representative but at the same time spares no opportunity to spit anti-India venom and malign the security forces. Not even the USA permits such blatant misuse of freedom of speech for anti-national activities.
Finally, the Central Government needs to be complimented for having acknowledged the elephant in the room and put in place an appropriate strategy.
The current strategy is “triple hammer”- SF action against the armed terrorists and their sympathisers (OGWs). NIA, ED and Economic Offences Wing are acting against terror funding and finance. Third is exposing Pak internationally as a harbourer of terror and forcing it to give up terror as state policy. The leadership in the J&K needs to gear up to the challenges that lie ahead, anticipate them and prepare a political and administrative response for
(The author is a Jammu based security and strategic analyst)