Terrorist activities of Jehadi Islamic organisations in a part of Jammu and Kashmir has reached a new and crucial stage that calls for decisive and conclusive response from the Indian state.
The recent terrorist act in Pulwama, causing the death of 40 CRPF jawans travelling in a bus and not engaged in battle, makes it the turning point. It is “now or never” for ending terrorism in these parts of J&K.
Violence to overawe a civilian population to attain political goals is terrorism. This type of violence is also a tool for dismembering a nation. The concern today is how, we as Indians, deter this terror and safeguard national integrity?
In Tamil Nadu, I was in charge in the Chandrashekar government [1990-91] and the process began by dismissing the Karunanidhi government. Tamils fully cooperated and we were able to decimate the LTTE without any civilian death. In the ensuing Assembly elections, the DMK won only two seats in the 224-seat House.
The dismemberment of Kashmir and the religious cleansing of Hindus from the state are the goals of J&K Islamic terrorism.
In a cassette distributed in a mosque in Srinagar on June 8, 2007, Al Qaeda [now morphed into ISIS] confirmed that for Islam, India as presently constituted, is the target for terrorist acts and religious cleansing. The forced exodus of five lakh Hindu Kashmiris, principally the Pandit community, was beginning of religious cleansing in the Kashmir Valley.
In J&K, terrorism today is a premeditated, politically motivated and Jehadi Islamic religion-inspired violence perpetrated against the non-combatant target population, primarily those of Hindu faith, by clandestine agents to secure compliance by intimidation, to overawe the Hindu civilian population.
Terrorism in the state, thus, is a strategy of violence to generate fear and disruption, with the ultimate aim to secure the balkanisation of the Indian nation, the rubbishing of its ancient Hindu civilisation, secured through capitulation of law-abiding civilian citizens.
J&K is thus today a terrorist-challenged state, which has profound national security implications.
Combating such terrorism has, however, become extremely complicated and multi-dimensional. Hence, we need to understand it’s nature and scope clearly before an effective strategy to deter terrorism can be formulated. There has been a paradigm change in terrorism’s character since 1968, caused by three specific innovations of the 20th century.
First, the invention of television with instant satellite relay, which has suddenly given small unknown groups the possibility of worldwide publicity.
Internet has raised that publicity potential manifold. The fact that most terrorist incidents take place in democratic states, may in part, be due to its availability.
Under an authoritarian regime like China, terrorists can be cut off from their media audience in the target country, thereby reducing to a minimum all the expected impact of their actions.
With freely available media, small groups of terrorists can attain heavy leverage against powerful opponents by getting wide publicity on small political events. The impact is mostly psychological and meant for media coverage. But it has the desired effect of promoting fear, shock and awe in the civilian population.
Hence, democratic India now need to formulate their counter-terrorist strategy keeping this in view, by imposing reasonable restrictions permitted in the Constitution on democratic freedom without destroying the basic structure of democratic practice itself.
Second is the incredible sophistication of hand-held weapons, especially it’s miniaturisation and proliferation that have enabled a small number of criminally-minded persons to do great harm.
Third, easy communication through internet and cell/satellite phones-enabled networking between various disparate terrorist groups. The ISI of Pakistan is engaged in assisting this enterprise to unravel India, and push it toward balkanisation. Hence, a terror cartel and networking has emerged in India.
A counter-terror strategy for India thus requires a paradigm shift from the traditional law & order approach of providing more personnel and sophisticated weapons.
What then are the elements of this counter-terror strategy? In my view, there are three steps for an effective strategy to eliminate terror in J&K.
First, all remaining traces of so-called “disputed status” of Jammu and Kashmir must be erased. For that, India must write to the United Nations withdrawing the illegal application filed by then Prime Minister Nehru.
It is illegal because it violated the 1935 British Indian Constitution on the Instrument of Accession Clause, which the J&K Maharaja had signed merging the state into India. Also Nehru never took Cabinet approval for the application. Hence, it is illegal and not binding on successive Indian governments since the Cabinet had not cleared it.
Second, Article 370 of the Constitution labelled as “temporary” by the Constituent Assembly, should be deleted as per procedure laid out in the Constitution itself, which is that a notification prepared by the Cabinet for its abolition is issued by the President of India. With that, Article 35 A will also fade away.
Third, 10 lakh former servicemen should be liberally provided with funds and weapons and requested to go to the Valley and settle down there with their families. After five years, they can return and the houses they acquire can be occupied by the expelled Hindu Kashmiris.
Fourth, liberally help the Kashmiri Muslim youth with clean credentials, and even surrendered extremists, to get education and jobs anywhere in India.
I know many who are today more patriotic and able than the average citizen.
Finally, for five years, impose AFSPA all over the state, introduce POTA and have no election for the first two years. The success of these proposals will be obtained only in the next two years. Pakistan, which is ripe for dismemberment, needs to be broken into four — Baluchistan, Pakhtoonistan, Sindh, and residual West Punjab.
For this, India has to obtain the tacit support of China and US by their non-interference. For doubting Thomases remember, China did not interfere in 1965, 1971 and 1999 Indo-Pak wars.