It may appear that the above minority killings in the Valley are in response to signs of normalisation returning and hindering government plans to return Kashmiri Pandits to J&K
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
Targeted killings by terrorists in Kashmir Valley have induced a sense of anxiety and fear among the minorities. Those shot dead between October 2 and 7, 2021 included Makhan Lal Bindroo, prominent pharmacist of Srinagar (shot dead at point blank range), the Sikh lady Principal Supinder Kaur and the Hindu teacher Deepak Chand of Government Boys Higher Secondary School near Idgah, Srinagar. At the school, terrorists lined up teachers, checked their ID cards and mobiles phones, and then shot dead the principal and the teacher. According to police, the manner of these killings indicated handiwork of ISIS and Taliban.
Several Hindu and Sikh families moved to safer locations because of rumours that terrorists are following a hit list. Sanjay Tickoo, President Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, terms the development, a return of 1990 when the Valley experienced ethnic cleansing. Government announced 10-day holidays for the non-Muslim employees for the festival season. But several government employees and teachers belonging to Kashimiri Pandit and Sikh communities returned to Jammu, some seeking transfer, and many staying away from work, due to rising worries about safety. However, many from the minority community who did not leave the Valley in 1990, plan to stay on.
Several government employees and teachers belonging to Kashimiri Pandit and Sikh communities returned to Jammu, some seeking transfer, and many staying away from work, due to rising worries about safety
Past few months, Indian news media was full of news about normalcy brought back to the Valley. But Pakistan has been able to pollute the atmosphere using terrorists within the Valley concurrent with psychological operations. For example, a tweet on social media reads: “ISI has a list of 200 Indians, foreign diplomats, armed personnel and intel officials active in Kashmir who are to be targeted incoming days. Soon new terror organisations will start taking responsibilities for the wave of assassinations and over-ground workers (OGW) will execute all the operations.”
As if on a cue to the above, a new terrorist group by the name of ‘Geelani Force’ (GF) has emerged in the Valley– taking its name after Syed Ali Shah Geelani - the Pakistani stooge who died on September 1, 2021. The group published a video announcing formation of Geelani Force, claimed responsibility for killing two Hindu teachers in Srinagar and assured Kashmiris they don’t not need to worry, being residents of Kashmir. They also threatened Pakistan-backed ‘The Resistance Force’ (TRF) not to meddle with Geelani Force otherwise their condition will be same as the kafirs - Hindu teachers killed.
The TRF has been saying they are not linked to Pakistan though they are the face of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in J&K. Similarly, the Geelani Force is very much creation of the ISI considering the obituaries Pakistani Prime Minister Imran khan was delivering on Geelani’s death. The threat by GF to TRF is a poor ploy of the ISI to fool intelligence agencies because they are Siamese twins of the ISI. This time the ISI has used local terrorists for assassinations mainly using pistols which are easy to hide and the information about the targets provided by over-ground workers (OGW) supporting terrorist organisations.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently said that India is facing a three-front war. This actually has been the case for many years. Radical Islam is now staring us in the face and the threat will keep enlarging within India and around us.
Large-scale anti-terrorist operations are on in the Valley presently to hunt down terrorists. Over 560 people have taken into custody and are being interrogated. In an encounter that broke out between terrorists and security forces at Gundjahangir in Hajin area of J&K’s Bandipora district on October 11, one killed terrorist identified as Imtiyaz Ahmad Dar was affiliated with the TRF who was involved in the recent killing of civilian at Shahgund in Bandipora.
With the terrorism afflicted setting in J&K, it was easy for Pakistan to poison the setting within short time given that we have not been able to develop requisites deterrence against Pakistan, leave aside against China,in this type of warfare. But even on with our largely defensive stance, we need to acknowledge that we are lacking in the following even though the terrain defies blocking 100 per cent infiltration - inadequate intelligence; inability to infiltrate terrorist organisations like the TRF leave aside eliminating them; monitoring OGWs, and de-radicalisation which must be a continuous process with periodic assessment to check its effectiveness. The security forces are on the lookout for a Pakistani terrorist ‘Chhota Walid’ who infiltrated into J&K some 20 days back to oversee the minority killings.
It may appear that the above minority killings in the Valley are in response to signs of normalisation returning and hindering government plans to return Kashmiri Pandits to J&K. But the China-Pakistan plan may not be only that. India is now in the crosshairs of Islamic jihad centered in the Af-Pak region with Pakistan-Taliban-Al Qaeda-ISIS/ISKP-AQIS all aligned against us. The Al Qaeda statement issued on August 31 talked of liberating “Levant, Somalia, Yemen, Kashmir and the rest of the Islamic lands from clutches of the enemies of Islam’ but omitted mention of Chechnya and Xinjiang obviously on ISI’s behest.
For decades we have shied away from taking the sub-conventional war into Pakistan and develop the capability to react with 24 hours, in double the measure, to any act of terrorism.
Taliban has openly snubbed the US by saying they will not help America in counterterrorism against the ISIS-ISKP. Pakistan has already shifted anti-India terrorist camps into Afghanistan and there is evidence of Taliban allowing Harkat-ul Ansar to push terrorists from Afghanistan into Kashmir. Shia’s are under attack in Afghanistan with Shia mosques in Kabul and Khan Abad district of Kunduz Province bombed recently by ISKP. It may be recalled that ISKP was raised in Peshawar by the ISI and pushed west into Afghanistan. In Pakistan, killings, abductions and forced abductions of minorities are a regular affair. Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims too are targeted in Pakistan.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently said that India is facing a three-front war. This actually has been the case for many years. Radical Islam is now staring us in the face and the threat will keep enlarging within India and around us. On October 11, one JCO and four army soldiers were killed in an encounter that broke out during an anti-insurgency operation close to the Line of Control (LOC) in the Surankot area in Poonch sector of J&K. The Pakistani terrorists had infiltrated from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). The ISI’s ‘thousand cut policy’ has been on for three decades at minimal cost to Pakistan.
No amount of blaming Pakistan directly or at any bilateral-multilateral-international forum will help, nor will pledges that we will dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in J&K. For decades we have failed to establish sub-conventional deterrence against Pakistan, leave aside China. We have shied away from taking the sub-conventional war into Pakistan and develop the capability to react with 24 hours, in double the measure, to any act of terrorism.
Ironically, we have not gone beyond political rhetoric and the odd airstrike or cross-border raid. Hence, the killings and induction of narcotics, weapons, ammunition and warlike stores by land, underground tunnels and using drones is going up. Unless we stop being ‘soft’ with anti-national elements within India and more importantly take the sub-conventional war inside enemy territory, the proxy war on India will keep growing.