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Violence in J&K
Complexities & Pathways
Jyoti Trehan*

 

 

In the aftermath of partition and independence, the 500-odd princely States which had a direct relationship with the British Empire were required to integrate with either India or Pakistan — the successor states. The process of integration was not without its highs and lows, and the cases of Hyderabad, Junagarh and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) were complicated by the inclinations of their rulers, the religious composition of the local populations and the competing interests of the two successor states, India and Pakistan. The cases of Hyderabad and Junagarh were favourably and clearly resolved in India’s favour. However, the integration of J&K with India was far from smooth, and the consequences are still reverberating through the sub-continent. Subsequent to the Pakistan-aided forces, including its army, invading J&K, the erstwhile ruler of the State signed the instrument of accession in India’s favour, giving the country the locus standi to protect this territory by military means. The salvage operation of evicting the Pakistan-aided forces could not be accomplished fully, since India agreed to a cease-fire under pressure from foreign powers, in the hope that the United Nations (UN) - to which the Kashmir dispute was to be referred - would help in the resolution of the issue within the accepted legal framework which was in India’s favour. India’s experience with the UN, however, was a great disappointment. Indeed, India had invested so much faith in the UN that it even agreed to a plebiscite in Kashmir to resolve the dispute, subject to the condition that Pakistan vacate the illegally occupied areas of J&K. At that stage, such a condition did not have to be conceded within the legal framework on the basis of which the integration of other princely States with the successor States was carried out, but was accepted because of India's abiding faith in democratic principles. Till date, Pakistan has not vacated what is now known as Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Moreover, in 1962, China occupied a large part of Kashmir in the Northeast, on the basis of a boundary dispute raised with India, which is yet to be resolved. To make matters worse, Pakistan ceded a part of PoK to China. The situation, as of today, is that 45.7 per cent of the 2,22,336 square kilometres of the area of Jammu & Kashmir is with India, 35.1 per cent is with Pakistan, and 19.2 per cent is held by China. Apart from a war with China, two full-scale wars have been fought with Pakistan over Kashmir: the 1965 War, which was confined to the Western theatre; and the 1971 War which was fought primarily in the East, though significant engagements also occurred in the West. The 1965 War was brief and an agreement was arrived at, with Soviet mediation, which more or less restored the status quo ante without any advantages accruing to the concerned parties. India gained significant advantages consequent upon the 1971 War, since East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan and emerged as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Crucially, this act of secession exploded the two-nation theory on which the very creation and existence of Pakistan was based, and as a result of which the sub-continent was partitioned into the two successor states. During the 1971 War, India captured 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war and also made large territorial gains by occupying certain strategic positions on the Western front. From this position of strength in 1971, India decided that the Kashmir dispute would be resolved bilaterally without any foreign intervention, a doctrine to which Pakistan also subscribed at that point of time. India approached the bilateral talks, whose outcome was the Shimla Agreement [1] , in a spirit of magnanimity and decided to return to Pakistan the 90,000 prisoners of war. It also agreed to a fresh demarcation of the Line of Control (LoC), including a withdrawal from several strategic positions, on the unwritten understanding that the LoC so demarcated would - over a period of time, based on good neighbourly relations and supplemented by economic ties - be mutually accepted as both the de facto and de jure border. Officially, however, India's stated position continues to be that the whole of J&K is its integral part. At present, the 1971 Shimla Agreement with Pakistan constitutes the principal plank for the settlement of the Kashmir issue on a bilateral basis.

 

International terrorism and its impact on India

 

In the 1970s, low intensity conflicts emerged within the contours of international terrorism. In military parlance, this meant waging of wars by unscrupulous and unprincipled states, at minimal costs to achieve core geopolitical objectives. In India, the spectre of Sikh terrorism and the movement for Khalistan emerged in the western sector in the early 1980s. This campaign was soon transformed by Pakistan into a proxy war against India. In the absence of widespread and mass support, however, Sikh terrorism was eventually crushed with a heavy hand. [2]

The collapse of the Berlin Wall – the ultimate symbol of the Cold War between USSR and USA – that resulted in the unification of East and West Germany also signalled the imminent collapse of the Soviet 'Empire'. This cataclysmic event was followed by critical developments in Eastern Europe and the erstwhile USSR, which were virtually inconceivable even a few years earlier. The East European countries rejected the path of communism and adopted the democratic route, and the former Soviet republics declared themselves independent states. Following these developments, it was felt in certain quarters in Pakistan and Kashmir that, perhaps, an opportune moment had come to either secure independence for J&K or its merger with Pakistan.

Events in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics also had ramifications for India in terms of cross-border terrorism. They coincided with the worsening of the terrorist scenario in Punjab in 1989. Pakistani authorities also decided that this was an opportune time to achieve their ultimate aims in J&K, and extended the theatre of the new form of low intensity warfare into this State as well. In J&K, terrorism was ushered in through a spectacular event – the kidnapping of the daughter of no less a person than the then Union Home Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. [3] The genesis of the current phase of cross-border terrorism in J&K can be traced to this event.

The fact that terrorism in Punjab was effectively controlled by the end of 1992 pushed the Pakistani establishment to further escalate the terrorist movement in J&K in order to keep their proxy war with India simmering at a certain level [4] .

The most sinister manifestation of militancy in J&K, so far, has been the Kargil intrusion by Pakistan-backed militants and army regulars, which led to an undeclared, though limited, war in May 1999. The Kargil intrusion had the potential of turning into a full-fledged war with Pakistan, with the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons, an eventuality that Pakistan threatened to realise on several occasions during the course of this conflict. The Kargil intrusion was finally neutralised by a fight-back by the Indian armed forces as they recovered peak after peak at a tremendous cost in terms of human life. The final stages of the Kargil conflict saw Pakistan withdraw from several of these heights because of difficulties in sustaining supply lines to the intruders, and also due to the mounting international pressure.

 

Operational strategy of cross-border terrorism in J&K

 

Though terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir is largely confined to the valley, it has also affected the Rajouri and Poonch districts bordering Pakistan, the Peer Panjal Range and the region stretching down to Doda. The Jammu region is also affected by cross-border terrorism.

Although at one point of time the number of terrorist groups in Kashmir was proliferating at a rapid rate, there are at present just half a dozen principal terrorist groups operating in Kashmir: the Hizb-ul- Mujahideen (HuM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Al-Badr, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (earlier Harkat-ul-Ansar), Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islam (HuJI) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JM), [5] recently formed by Maulana Masood Azhar, who was released as a part of the prisoner-swap against the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC 814 from Kathmandu to Delhi. [6] Each of these terrorist outfits are affiliated with various overground political factions. Thus, the political wing of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is the Jamaat-e-Islami and that of the Lashkar-e-Toiba is the Markaz-ud-Dawaa-Wal-Irshad. The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen cadres are mainly of Kashmiri origin. Other organizations have come to be progressively dominated by militants of foreign origin, including Pakistanis. Over 60 per cent of militants currently active in J&K are believed to be of foreign origin, a proportion that has increased from a mere six per cent in 1989. [7] Upto 90 per cent of the foreign militants are from Pakistan. Of late, a sprinkling of militants from several Islamic countries including Afghanistan and Sudan, has also been noticed. [8] Of the total strength of militants operating in the State, as many as 80 per cent may be of Kashmiri origin - that is, they belong to Kashmir or to PoK.

The strategy of these terrorist groups is to create terror through bomb explosions, indiscriminate firing at innocents, targeting VIPs and important functionaries of the government, and attacks on security forces. Lately, several attacks on security establishments by suicide squads or fidayeen have also been executed. [9]

With regard to the tools of terror, seizure figures from January 1990 to June 30 2000 indicate that these are sufficient to arm at least three divisions of the Army (Table 1). Explosives have also been used extensively, and the volume of seized explosives is an index of the destructive potential the terrorists currently possess (Table 2). On the communications front, the fact that as many as 2,798 wireless sets had been seized from the terrorists (up to October 2000) is an indication of their effective organisational strength. [10]

 

Table 1: Arms Seizures

 

 

Weapons

(in numbers)

1.

AK-47/56/74 Rifles

20810

2.

Pistols/Revolvers

8419

3.

UMGs

968

4.

Carbines

57

5.

RPGs

769

6.

GPMGs

63

7.

LMG/SLRs

69

8.

.303 Rifles

131

9.

Sniper Rifles

307

10.

Rocket Launchers

649

11.

Rocket Boosters

1743

 

Magazines

(in numbers)

1.

AK 47/56/74 Rifle

41196

2.

Pistol/Revolver

8090

3.

UMG

1278

4.

LMG

31

5.

Carbine

16

6.

Telescope

24

 

Ammunition

(in rounds)

1.

AK 47/56/74 Rifle (in Lacs)

27.11

2.

Pistol/Revolver

177071

3.

UMG

109524

4.

Sniper Rifle

34456

5.

.303 Ammunition

5822

6.

Belted Ammunition

122014

7.

Telescope Rifle

24

Source: Crime records of State police.

 

 

Table 2: Explosive Material seized

 

 

Explosive Material

(in numbers)

1.

Grenades/Hand Grenades

37826

2.

IEDs

3795

3.

Explosives

21770

4.

Electronic Detonators

4004

5.

Detonators

44790

6.

A P Mines

4901

7.

A T Mines

392

8.

R.D.X (in Kgs)

2606

9.

Rockets

3259

Source : Crime records of State police.

 

The extent of funding of terrorism in J&K depends primarily on the estimate of the number of terrorists operating in this region and there is no unanimity amongst the various security forces and intelligence agencies operating in J&K on this figure. The army tends to down play the number of terrorists and has put their estimate at 2000 - this low estimate on the part of the army is one way of projecting its efficiency with regard to curbing infiltration along the border/LoC. The police forces on the other hand put the figure at 5000, trying to play up the looseness of the security forces in checking infiltration on the border/LoC. Intelligence agencies provide a cautious and conservative figure of 3000-plus or 4000. According to this author's interactions with several persons, a figure of 4000 could be a conservative estimate.

As stated, there are six principal terrorist groups currently operating in J&K. Within a specific hierarchy, these groups are further sub-divided into numerous gangs of varying membership strength. Operationally, these terrorist outfits function in small gangs of three to four. In carrying out attacks of a larger intensity, for instance, the attacks on Amarnath Yatris, [11] several small operational gangs unite. Most of the terrorist outfits operating in J&K receive substantial funds. All terrorists get a certain down payment on recruitment, apart from a monthly remuneration and other incentives for terrorist acts of larger intensity and a certain amount as end of tenure - usually two years - payment. According to various computations by intelligence agencies, on an average Rs. 300,000 per annum is spent on funding a Kashmiri terrorist and up to Rs. 500,000 on a foreign terrorist. If one assumes an average expenditure of Rs. 400,000 per terrorist over a force of 4,000, it results in a staggering amount of Rs. 16 billion. These figures also factor in the larger remuneration paid to the 'top level' terrorists. The structure of funding would also include other expenditure incurred on administrative machinery, media relations, training, relief expenditure, a one time ex-gratia payment to the kith & kin of the terrorists killed, and earning the goodwill of the local populace, an objective that the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is ensuring that the terrorists pursue. [12]

 

Table 3: Funds given to terrorists operating in J&K

 

 

 

Foreigners

(includes Pakistani)

Kashmiris

1.

Upfront money given at the time of recruitment

Upto Rs. 50,000

Upto Rs. 25,000

2.

Monthly payment

Rs. 10,000 to

Rs. 12,000

Rs. 8,000 to

Rs. 10,000

3.

End of tenure payment

Rs. 2,00,000 to Rs. 2,50,000

Rs. 1,00,000 to Rs.1,50,000

4.

For a spectacular act of terrorism

Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakhs

5.

Payment given to a supremo or top leader

Upto Rs. 50,000/- per month

 

 

 

The army has separately computed the various sources of funding of terrorism in J&K. Army sources disclose that the proportions are as follows:

 

Straight funding from Pakistan

20%

Funding from narcotics

25%

Funding from illegal sale of arms

20%

Funding through counterfeit currency

10%

Funding through Zohat (An Islamic tax)

5%

Funding from international Islamic organisations

5%

Funding from “Organisation of Islamic countries”

5%

Funding through extortion

5%

Funding through donations

5%

Source: Interaction with various agencies.

 

Table 4: Cost of weapons & explosives

 

 

Weapons

Cost

1.

AK 47

Rs. 25,000/-

2.

Rifle

Rs. 10,000/-

3.

LML

Rs. 20,000/-

4.

Rocket launchers

Rs. 50,000/-

5.

Mortars

Rs. 75,000/-

 

Explosives

 

1.

RDX

Rs. 20,000/- per kg

2.

Other explosives

Rs. 6,000/- per kg

 

Other figures

 

1.

Cost of training of terrorist

Rs. 25,000/-

2.

Cost of clothing

Rs. 5,000/-

3.

Relief for families of deceased militants in Pakistan

Ex-gratia of Rs. 2,00,000/-

4.

Relief for families of deceased Kashmiri in J&K

Ex-gratia of Rs. 20,000/- plus. some monthly subsistence allowance ranging from Rs. 3,000/- to 5,000/-. They also get some extra money on festivals like Id.

 

Jamait-e-Islami, a political wing of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is reported to have collected Pakistani Rs. 2.5 billion in Pakistan by way of donations.

Source: Interaction with various agencies.

There are several sources of funds that have been utilised by terrorist outfits in J&K. The most significant channel is, of course, direct funding by the ISI, with terrorists crossing the border being provided with both genuine and counterfeit currency. Though the counterfeit angle is being played up by several agencies and the media, this author does not subscribe to the notion that counterfeit currency is significant to the terrorists' funding mechanism. On the contrary, counterfeit currency, rather than earning goodwill for the terrorists, is gradually leading to hostility on the part of the locals against the terrorists due to the punitive enforcement action the local population has to face from the state agencies on discovery of such currency.

Another important source of terrorist funding in Kashmir is the Hawala route, also known as the underground or parallel-banking channel. The Hawala route is used by the ISI and several other fundamentalist outfits based in countries grouped under the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) to send money to terrorist groups in J&K. Hawala funding is done through a network of dealers which extends all the way to Delhi, Mumbai and other places in India. Many of these Hawala dealers have begun genuine wholesale/retail businesses as fronts to divert money to the J&K militant groups. It has been reported that Kashmiri carpet dealers throughout the country under-invoice their exports to Islamic countries and the balance of the under-invoiced value is diverted to the terrorist groups through the Hawala route. [13]

Legal remittances to educational and religious institutions, with an element of over-invoicing, are another source of funding. For example, of the money received by Jhelum Medical College, the cost of building etc., were inflated and the difference between the inflated cost and the actual cost was siphoned off to the terrorist groups. In recent times, a number of Madarsas that have emerged in J&K and in other parts of India, especially in northern UP, are receiving large amounts of legal funding from the member countries of the OIC. A large amount of money is also being provided to the terrorists directly by the Pakistan High Commission. There have been reports that leaders of the All Party Hurriyat Conference have been receiving funds from the Pakistan embassy in New Delhi. [14]

An analysis of terrorists' funding mechanisms must also take into consideration Pakistan's capacity to fund terrorist groups through the smuggling of narcotics. The squeeze on international funding to Pakistan as a consequence of the Chagai nuclear explosion has led to 90 per cent of that country's budget being utilised for debt servicing and maintenance of the administrative machinery, including the army. [15] With dwindling official resources, Pakistan is increasingly resorting to financing terrorism with proceeds from the smuggling of narcotics. High quality opium is harvested from Afghanistan and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and refined into heroin in highly sophisticated laboratories located in Afghanistan and the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Narcotic smugglers based in Pakistan and controlled by the ISI are reported to be earning U.S$ 2.5 billion in the illegal trading of narcotics. The current harvest has been estimated at 5000 tons of opium by various countries and international agencies. [16] It is through the illegal trading of narcotics that Pakistan is supporting the Taliban Government in Afghanistan and financing terrorist outfits in Jammu & Kashmir. It is alleged that the Kargil war was also financed by Pakistan from money gained through the smuggling of narcotics. [17]

Terrorists' have also dextrously exploited the route from Pakistan to Nepal by air and the porous border between India and Nepal to receive funds. Moreover, there being no restrictions on the movement of money and people from Nepal to India, this route is generally chosen by the top leadership of the terrorist groups to enter India.

The terrorist outfits in J&K also resort to extortion from the local populace, especially corrupt officials, to augment their funds. Various sympathisers of the terrorist groups, especially in the Valley, also contribute to the terrorist kitty in the form of donations. It is alleged that the Jammu and Kashmir Bank has played a fairly dubious role in channelling terrorist funding in Jammu & Kashmir. [18]

According to a conservative estimate, the terrorist funding in Kashmir is reported to be in the region of Rs. 2.5 billion, a substantial portion of which emanates from Pakistan (See Table 3). Pakistan's cost-benefit calculations vis--vis financing terrorist groups in its proxy war against India in J&K are influenced by calculations of the much heavier expenditure that India has to incur by way of diverting scarce economic resources to its security apparatus.

 

Terrorism and its impact on economic activity in J&K

 

There has been a large-scale distortion in the economic base of J&K due to cross-border terrorism. Tourism, the mainstay of economic activity in the State, was estimated to generate Rs. 2 billion per annum. By this calculation, the J&K economy has suffered a damage to the extent of Rs. 20 billion over the last decade in tourism industry alone. [19] Currently, the handicraft industry is reported to be flourishing in the State with the handicraft dealers getting better returns. The handicraft dealers are directly approaching the markets in big towns, eliminating middleman in the process. Conventional farming, commercial vegetable gardening and fruits are the other significant sources of income. As a State afflicted by terrorism, the J&K economy also manifests certain paradoxes. One of these is that, despite the uneven growth of a major economic activity like tourism, there is all-round economic prosperity in the State. Evidence of this can be adduced from the fact that 20 brick kilns are operating in the vicinity of Srinagar, and massive mansions are being built, both within Srinagar and in the countryside. A study on the flow of major items of consumption like food and fuel into J&K carried out at the barrier on the Banihal Pass has revealed that there is a substantial increase in the flow of such items into the State. [20]

One of the principal reasons for the economic prosperity of J&K is that certain ancillary sectors have benefited from the presence of 250 battalions of security forces located in J&K (150 of the Army and 100 of the para-military forces). Occupancy in J&K hotels has increased due to the large presence of security forces. These battalions also generate a lot of revenue in terms of other related economic activity. The Union Government is also reported to be liberal in sanctioning security related expenses for these forces. In order to pitch tents for a Border Security Force (BSF) battalion, for instance, the Government sanctions Rs. 15,000, which the farmer is only too glad to receive, considering that he will generate an income of barely Rs. 5,000 if he were to till the land. Moreover, J&K being a highly subsidised State, there are no surcharges levied on electricity and food grain is available at relatively low rates. Terrorist funding to the extent of Rs. 2.5 billion through various channels, alluded to earlier, has also contributed substantially to economic prosperity. Corruption, which is at an all time high in J&K, has led to most of the developmental expenditure finding its way into the pockets of politicians, bureaucrats and other vested interests in the private sector.

 

Terrorist incidents and action by enforcement agencies

 

During the period between January 1990 and June 2000, there have been 45,586 incidents of terrorist violence; of these 16,844 have been directed against the security forces. Terrorism was at its peak during the period 1993-96, when on an average there were 5000-6000 terrorist incidents per year. Another peculiar feature of terrorism, during the last decade is that, up until 1995, processions and demonstrations in the Valley were the order of the day, whereas from 1996 onwards, hartals and strikes based on calls given by militants are the dominant feature. A possible explanation for this could be the fact that, till 1995, as a result of the events in Europe since 1989, the people of J&K were hopeful of seceding from India. Subsequently, when these hopes were belied, normal and routine activity has been suspended only on the dictates of the militants. Terrorism in J&K has taken a very heavy toll in terms of loss of life in the last decade. Over 22,000 persons have lost their lives in terrorist related incidents in the State, including more than 8,398 civilians. Another 11,361 civilians have suffered injuries in the conflict. The number of security personnel killed stands at 2,255, with another 6,535 injured. 11,479 militants have also lost their lives as a result of counter-terrorism operations and 3000 militants have surrendered. In the last decade 35,059 militants/suspects have been apprehended by the security forces; of these 19,313 were released after preliminary interrogation and 15,726 were arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA) and other substantive laws. Many of the arrested persons have been released on bail and, at present, only 332 persons are in judicial custody while 480 persons have been detained under the preventive sections of the law. [21]

 

Dialogue as a solution

 

Evidently, violence in J&K is far from forcing any resolution to the advantage of any of the parties to the conflict. Dialogue, under the circumstances, becomes an imperative. This process of dialogue can be initiated at two levels: The first, with the Kashmiri people; and secondly, with Pakistan. Such a dialogue could be based on the possibilities of granting a greater degree of autonomy to the Kashmiri people within the framework of the Indian Constitution. However, this autonomy should not mean buckling down to unreasonable demands under the threat of violence, and should be in consonance with the scope of autonomy being considered for other States of India. The dialogue process would also need to be backed up by an effective programme for socio-economic development. The objectives of a meaningful dialogue, moreover, can only be achieved by cultivating and nurturing a proper leadership structure in Kashmir.

The dialogue with Pakistan would have to be bilateral and based on a spirit of accommodation, as envisaged under the Shimla Agreement of 1972. Ground realities would have to be acknowledged by both the countries - in the present instance, the “Line of Control” which is at present the de-facto border, could eventually form a de-jure border with Pakistan. Political parties on both sides, and the military establishment in Pakistan- which has ruled Pakistan for considerable intervals of time since its inception - would no doubt find it inconvenient to sell such a line to their people. However, over a period of time, an atmosphere could be built up where acceptance of such a division of Kashmir is welcomed without much resentment by the people of both the countries. It would be impractical for either India or Pakistan to regard the whole of J&K as their territory. It is inconceivable to grant total independence to J&K, since this would run counter to the very basis of the formation or birth of India & Pakistan in the first instance. Independence for J&K cannot be considered in the context of the Indian Union, because it would encourage fissiparous tendencies in many other regions/States of India. Moroever, the single most important factor which could militate against the formation of a separate nation of J&K is the secular nature of India's Constitution and the fact that India has the second largest Muslim population in the world. Another factor that needs to be hammered out in a dialogue with Pakistan is a cost-benefit analysis of waging several wars and cross border terrorism. To be in a constant state of hostility, the two neighbouring countries have to deploy increasing proportions of scarce economic resources towards maintaining minimal levels of perceived defence preparedness. One of the natural corollaries of a dialogue on the Kashmir issue with Pakistan will be that the two countries could resume a process of economic co-operation and cultural exchange. The spin-off of economic co-operation would go a long way in bringing about a lasting peace to the sub-continent. Cultural exchange in this context would also be most productive, especially in view of the enormous commonalties, and the fact that India and Pakistan were a single nation a little over half a century ago. Cultural exchanges can greatly strengthen ties between peoples who have more similarities than dissimilarities with each other. In course of time, free movement across the borders of the two countries ought to be the final objective of the peace process. In the ultimate analysis, for strategic reasons, the Indian sub-continent should be viewed as a region of peace, and religion should not be a divisive force.

A modicum of international pressure could also be exercised by some international agencies or States, to facilitate such a peace process, without diluting the essentially bilateral character of the talks. If Pakistan continues its intransigence on the Kashmir issue, then a tough posture would be in order, so that in course of time the wisdom of peace dawns on Pakistan. The fact that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers is another factor that needs to be placed in this perspective. The threat of a nuclear blackmail by Pakistan, resorted to quite frequently in the recent past, cannot work to its advantage. If Pakistan (aided and abetted by certain foreign powers hostile to India) chooses the path of a nuclear attack on India, then India which has forsaken the right of the first-use of nuclear weapons would be left with no other alternative but to retaliate with its full nuclear might. The outcome, apart from devastation on both sides, would mean the total annihilation of Pakistan as a nation. It can only be hoped that Pakistan, over a period of time, is not gradually working towards its own dismemberment or extinction, considering the various fissiparous tendencies that are operating within it.

 

Current scenario

 

The ground realities within J&K are currently distressing on several counts. The present democratically elected government in J&K headed by Farooq Abdullah is perhaps one of the most corrupt, inefficient and ineffective that the State has had till date. Maladministration, corruption, inefficiency and ineffectiveness create the ideal context for the operation of terrorist groups. The rapaciousness of the State Government can be adjudged from the fact that virtually the entire sum of Rs. 3 billion earmarked for increasing the effectiveness of the State police forces has been diverted to 'other channels'. [22] The irresponsibility of the State administration can also be gauged by the fact that a golf course, costing Rs.150 million, is being built on a prime land in J&K under the aegis of the J&K Tourism Corporation to satisfy the personal whims of the Chief Minister. [23]

In the post-Kargil phase, terrorists have carried out more daring acts of violence, even deploying suicide squads to target military/security establishments. It was in such an atmosphere of widespread maladministration, on the one hand, and terror, on the other that the Union Government began a process of dialogue with the Hurriyat. This overground secessionist group, which earlier comprised a sizeable number of 25 leaders, has progressively depleted, and currently consists of approximately a dozen leaders. Moreover, the Hurriyat is deeply divided, with some factions advocating independence for the State while others have a pro-Pakistan approach. The affiliations of this group and its source of funding from Pakistan and other Islamic countries have been adequately documented. [24] Currently, the Hurriyat stands as a fairly discredited group with minuscule support base among the Kashmiris. It is, consequently, unlikely that a dialogue with Hurriyat will lead to any concrete solution to the Kashmir problem. At the other end, Farooq Abdullah felt he had been upstaged by the Hurriyat and the Centre, and raised the bogey of an autonomy demand and restoration of the pre-1953 status. ‘Autonomy’ in the context of Farooq Abdullah's demand is distinct from the demands emanating from other States. Abdullah's demand for autonomy amounts to virtual independence (with all the attendant dangers of the demand of total independence being raised again and again), whereas the other States seek greater devolution of financial powers and resources. Any concessions on Abdullah's demands for 'autonomy' would not only fail to solve the Kashmir problem, but would also fuel secessionism in other parts of the country. In fact, one of the greatest failure of successive Union Governments so far has been that they have neither been able to foster nor nurture an alternative leadership structure in the Kashmir valley other than the Abdullah family. The development of a responsible political leadership within the State is essential in order to arrive at a more meaningful solution to the Kashmir imbroglio internally.

 

Dialogue with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen

 

The recent declaration of cease-fire by the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and its aborted bid to hold talks with the Government of India, despite its manifest failure, opened opportunities that did not exist earlier. To its credit, the Union Government readily accepted the talks offer without any pre-conditions. Substantial Track II diplomacy behind the scenes, as well as a certain degree of international pressure on Pakistan and Hizb, brought about the initiation of this peace process. However, contradictory statements by the Indian Prime Minister regarding the framework of the Constitution and the dialogue with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen undermined the possibilities of success at the very outset. The Hizb, in insisting on Pakistan being made a part of the peace process, also displayed a lack of honest intentions. The declared policy of the Government of India so far has been that it will engage in a dialogue with Pakistan only if it stops cross-border terrorism. At the other end, Pakistan states that it has no control over the militant groups operating in Kashmir, though there is ample evidence to the contrary in the form of training camps, and the financing of these terrorist groups by Pakistan.

There seems to be a strange dichotomy in the approach of the Union Government in the degree of simultaneity it has displayed in initiating a dialogue with the Hurriyat, with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, and with the State Government on the issue of 'autonomy'. A lack of vision on the part of the Union Government in handling the Kashmir imbroglio is quite evident in this context. Primarily, the government has to define its priorities. The first of these must be to ensure that terrorism in Kashmir is curbed in an effective manner, the way it was done in Punjab. To this end, a strategy can be worked out and implemented through the right leadership. The Government of Farooq Abdullah can be sacked if the need arises on grounds of incompetence, corruption, inefficiency and ineffectiveness, all factors that undermine any effective counter-terrorism operation. Secondly, a socio-economic developmental package should be worked out for Kashmir, and normal economic activity should be restored. Once the ground realities change towards this direction, many of the disaffected terrorist groups would incline increasingly towards a resolution through dialogue within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Pakistan may also eventually agree to a meaningful bilateral dialogue, once it senses that terrorism and violence is not paying off. All this requires an honest, sincere and sustained effort on part of the Union Government to prepare the groundwork for a solution to the Kashmir problem. What is needed is a vision with clarity and not ad hoc or knee-jerk reactions. There are no short cuts to a solution on Kashmir; even the best of the strategies would fail in the absence of the necessary groundwork.

 

Trifurcation as a strategy

 

On all available accounts, the various and divergent approaches that the Government has adopted to solve the Kashmir imbroglio seem to be directed towards creating an atmosphere of confusion and chaos. Indications are that both India and Pakistan, under international pressure, may be working out a secret understanding towards the trifurcation of the State of J&K. Under such a scheme, Jammu, including Rajouri & Poonch, would be carved out as a separate State. Ladakh would be brought under the Centre as a Union Territory. And the Kashmir Valley on both sides of the LoC would be united "with some form of autonomy, in the interregnum and till such time, that this form of autonomy crystallises into something concrete." The last of these has the proviso that a neutral/outside force would 'ensure peace' in the Kashmir valley during this “interregnum” of autonomy.

Several misgivings have been expressed about the trifurcation of J&K, the most serious being that India, which was constituted as a secular state, would be subscribing to the two-nation theory which led to its Partition, and the rejection of which is the cornerstone of its secular ideology. With a population of over 160 million Muslims, and a range of fissiparous tendencies within the country, any dilution of this secular character could prove to be disastrous.

At the other end, there are some who argue that the concept that 'India does not subscribe to the two-nation theory' is best forgotten, and that realpolitik demands a solution to the J&K problem, by isolating it to the valley.

Irrespective of its merits and demerits, the trifurcation strategy can be effective only if it is completely backed by Pakistan, a highly unlikely scenario. Whether trifurcation is an honest way to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem is again a debatable point – such a move might work or it might boomerang. Such a move is also fraught with political risks, in view of the numerous 'imponderables' in such a complex political move.

 



* Jyoti Trehan belongs to the Indian Police Service and is currently a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow working on the project “Proceeds of crime and money laundering in the Indian context; how it impinges on national security”. His last posting in Punjab was as IG (Operations), Punjab Police. He has also served tenures with the CBI and with the Interpol General Secretariat at Lyons, France.

[1] For a complete text of the Shimla Agreement see, http://www.satp.org/India/Documents/Shimla Agreement, 1972.html

[2] K.P.S. Gill, “Endgame in Punjab: 1988-93,” Faultlines, New Delhi,1, May 1999, pp. 1-72.

[3] Manoj Joshi, The Lost Rebellion: Kashmir in the Nineties, New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1999, pp. 32-6; Tavleen Singh, Kashmir: A Tragedy of Errors, New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1996, pp. 119-20.

[4] See the article, “Pakistan: Cradle of Terrorism”, htttp://www.armyinkashmir.org/article/pakmili.html

[5] See http://www.satp.org/India/J&K/Terrorist%20Outfits/Terrorist_J&K.htm for a list of terrorist outfits, and profiles of the major groups.

[6] The Hijack is exhaustively discussed in K.P.S. Gill, "Terrorism, Institutional Collapse & Emergency Response Protocols," Faultlines, 4, February 2000, pp. 1-42.

[8] The Union Ministry of Home Affairs puts the number of foreign mercenaries already arrested or killed in J&K at “about 1,500”, including nationals from Pakistan/PoK, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Sudan, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Chechnya and Bosnia. See http://www.mha.nic.in/mil.htm#ml

[9] See http://www.satp.org/India/J&K/Attack%20on%20SF.htm.

[11] “100 killed in Kashmir's night of terror”, Times of India , New Delhi, August 3, 2000; “Mayhem in J&K: 100 killed in six attacks”, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, August 3, 2000.

[12] The India army estimates costs on weapons, ammunition and equipment alone to approximate Rs. 845,256,350, i.e. approximately US$ 20,125,246. Cf: Militancy in Kashmir - A Testimony to Pakistan's Involvement.

http://www.armyinkashmir.org/article/weapons.html

[13] This observation is based on the author's interactions with sources who wish to remain anonymous.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Out of total government resources of Pakistani Rs. 553,867 million in 1999-2000, expenditure on debt servicing (313,273 million or 57 per cent), defence (143,377 or 26 per cent), and government administration (47,874 or 9 per cent) together constituted 91 per cent of total government resources. Official Government Website of Pakistan, http://www.finance.gov.pk/04-FD/pf-01.pdf

[16] Afghanistan's output of heroin in 1999 was estimated at 4600 metric tonnes, more than the total world output in 1998. See Rolf Soderlind, "Afghan 1999: Opium Production Seen at Record High”, The Online Center for Afghan Studies,

http://www.afghan-politics.org/Reference/Drugs/afghan_1999_opium_production.htm.

[17] B. Raman, “Heroinisation of the Pakistan Economy”, South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG), http://www.saag.org/notes/note87.html.

[18] Intelligence sources.

[19] Another study estimates a total loss of Rs. 20 billion to the J&K economy as a whole, due to terrorism. See Gurmeet Kanwal, “Pakistan’s continuing challenge in Kashmir: Need for a trans-LoC pro-active response”, Strategic Analysis, New Delhi, 23 (12), March 2000, p. 2162.

[20] “Informal study conducted by Sudhir S. Bloeria, Principal Secretary to the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir”.

[21] Personal communication from Jammu and Kashmir Police.

[22] Confidential sources.

[23] There are varying estimates on the cost incurred by the State government on account of the Golf Course being built at Srinagar. One news report cites a political leader alleging that Rs. 450 million is being spent. See http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/00nov07/state.htm. Another leader citing the Chief Minister said that Rs. 200 million is being spent. See http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/00oct15/state.htm.

[24] For instance see the editorial, 'Broadbased', Daily Excelsior, Jammu, October 24, 2000. http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/00oct24/edit.htm

 

 

 

 

 
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