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In Kashmir, Forces Fight Bullets Laced With Lucre

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By Sidharth Mishra

The conflict in Kashmir is of hybrid kind. It’s neither a full-scale war nor a low intensity conflict. It’s a battle, where, at least as evident in the past three years, the Government is pushing for the endgame. On the other hand, the endgame would threaten the existing social, political and economic status quo, even if it has bled the Valley for past seven decades in particular and the nation in general. This hybrid conflict has shown an ironical character. Theoretically it’s being fought to defend Kashmiriyat from the shadow Indian sovereignty. However, the battle has saving Kashmiriyat has devoured its own child and ideology. Today it’s the Indian Sovereign which has fighting tooth and nail to save Kashmiriyat from the claws of Islamisation and radicalization of Kashmiri society, which followed the liberal Sufi strand of Islam.

According to Kashmir expert Syed Ata Hasanain, “The separatists have been projecting their cause through literature, social media, media patronage, mosque power, direct engagement and creation of structures which can be activated in minutes to respond to diverse situations. The campaign to radicalise Kashmiri society has been a deliberate ploy to empower the mosque and link Pakistan’s chosen path of radical Islam to the Valley’s new ideology.”
Other than ideology, what fuels the movement to radicalize the Kashmir Valley? The recent raids conducted by the enforcement agencies and arrest of the separatist leaders like Hurriyat stalwart Shabbir Shah and son-in-law of another Hurriyat prima donna of Syed Ali Shah Geelani point towards the fuel dumps.
Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Funtoosh, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Raja MehrajuddinKalwal, Peer Saifullah, AftabHilali Shah aliasShahid-ul-Islam, Nayeem Khan and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate are the seven arrested. Shahid-ul-Islam is a close aide and press secretary of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
The NIA had said the men were raising, receiving and collecting funds through illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. “They were using funds for causing disruption in Kashmir Valley by way of pelting stones on security forces, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India.” The spokesman said the NIA had conducted widespread searches in Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Haryana and recovered documents, electronic devices, cash and valuables worth several crores of rupees.
“The separatists have far better network and organisational structures than even the army. There are elements in every ‘qasba’ and every town, the intelligence providers, backed by an army of lawyers, treasurers, ideologues, rabble rousers, stone throwers, drug addicts and of course terrorists. All of them survive on the additional income provided by the separatists. There has been enough money coming in to finance a plethora of overground workers, compensate families of terrorists, pay guides at the LoC, safe house owners and stone throwers on an everyday basis,” Hasanain wrote in a recent newspaper article. Hasanain a few years back the Indian Army in the Valley as the Commander of 15 Corp.
The other aspect of the conflict is pushing in the mercenary fighters from across the borders. Obviously those working for radicalizing Valley cannot leave it to the Kashmiris alone, given their essential faith in Sufism. Thus no wonder, the command of organisations like Lashkar-e-Tayyebain the Valley remains largely with Pak citizen’s like Abu Dujana, who was recently gunned down and was best known for his philandering ways.
Security forces have killed more than 80 foreign terrorists in Kashmir Valley this year as compared to only 30-odd local terrorists, indicating the designs from across the border to keep militancy going in the valley. These numbers also indicate towards better inflow of real time Intelligence, caused largely by schism between the local and foreign terrorists and local people providing information to the security forces about the presence of foreign militants in the hinterland.
While the neutralized local terrorists mostly belonged to Kashmir-based HizbulMujahideen, foreign ultras come from Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Both these organisations are in Pakistan and they infiltrate their terrorists into Kashmir with the help of Pakistan Army and ISI.
At the diplomatic level too a long drawn battle has been on to get these organisations isolated internationally. In the case of Jaish, China has repeatedly scuttled the efforts to get its chief AzharMasood banned by the United Nations.
The killing of foreign terrorists in large numbers indicates of a growing distance between the local and foreign terrorists. Making use of this schism Army is now lodged in an intense phase of operation carrying out anti-terror missions almost every day as compared to two or three in a week. The plan this time is focused on sparsely populated North Kashmir, which provides safe passage and home to foreign mercenaries before they enter South Kashmir for executing their plans.
Thus the increased gun battles in the Valley should be complemented with more efforts to demolish the financial supply lines. On this front the Government has followed up the macro moves like demonetization with more micro maneuvers like breaking the local cartels existing under the patronage of the separatist leaders.
While the government has to provide opportunities of employment to the Kashmiri youth, which is easier said than done, it has to doubly ensure that there are no means available to them to make easy money by participating in the subversive activities. If somebody has to join the militancy, it should be ensured that it should be for their belief in a particular ideology and not lure for the lucre.
(Sidharth Mishra is Editor, Capital Khabar)

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