The strategic community in India has remained preoccupied with Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist attack on a convoy of the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The unfolding situation in Kashmir, in the interim, has been dynamic in nature. The security forces moved swiftly and, within 100 hours of the terrorist attack, eliminated the entire ground leadership in Kashmir of the terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) that had claimed responsibility for the attack. Among those killed was one Kamran who was a top commander of JeM and the chief architect of the attack on the CRPF colony. Security forces have kept the pressure going and have achieved great success. The desperate terrorists have attempted to reduce the pressure by launching a grenade attack in Jammu. Once again the desired result has not been forthcoming and the determination to rid the state from the curse of terrorism once and for all persists.
Alongside the security operations, the democratic process has remained intact. The tense security situation in the state has not been allowed to impact the polling schedule for the forthcoming parliamentary elections, for which dates of polling in the state have been announced along with the rest of the country. Elections will be held in the state for all six constituencies in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the result will be declared on 23, May.
The Election Commission has decided to refrain from holding the state assembly election simultaneously. It has, however, given an indication that the process will not be delayed for more than a month and will be held ahead of the Shri Amarnath Yatra, scheduled to begin on 01, July. Certain political parties have attempted to politicise this decision. It, however, seems to be practical and mature, since the slight delay will facilitate a better conduct of the polls and the voter will not be rushed into making a decision. It can be safely said that the security and political situation in the state is conducive for the safe and fair conduct of the democratic process and it will be completed well in time.
More significant at the moment is the ongoing investigation into illegal flow of funds and terror financing in Jammu and Kashmir. The NIA, on 26, February, carried out searches at premises of many separatists leaders. Significant among these is Mirwaiz Umar Farooq; others include Naseem Geelani, Ashraf Sehrai, Yasin Malik and Shabbir Shah and many more. Some have already been put under arrest.
The Mirwaiz who has now been summoned to Delhi for further questioning and he has categorically refused citing security reasons and “conditions of hostility.” The argument does not hold merit since he has been travelling from Delhi onwards to the whole world and has never raised any security concerns. Naseem Geelani, the son of Syed Geelani has also been summoned along with the Mirwaiz; his position on the subject is not known.
There is also an attempt through the media to pressurise the Government into adopting a soft approach with the Mirwaiz and other separatists. Newspapers that are aligned with separatists are printing condemnations of the investigation by saying that the Mirwaiz is holding a religious position of importance in the state. Even Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of the state has condemned the summoning of the Mirwaiz.
The investigations are being conducted in accordance with the law of the land. While democracy gives to all citizens the right to express views and hold political opinions, there is no cause for seeking funds from foreign shores for the same, especially so, from countries known to be inimical to the interests of the nation. Under such circumstance the activity automatically becomes both illegal and anti-national. When seen in this context the government crackdown on the separatists is righteous and justified while being long overdue.
Also in the right direction is the banning of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) that, while being a religious and social organisation, was actively involved in separatist politics.
As things stand now the terrorist infrastructure in the state continues to be under extreme stress and is all but demolished. Normal life is going on uninterrupted with negligible incidents of stone pelting and such like disruption being reported. The political process is underway in accordance with the democratic norms of the country and soon the elected governments will be in place at the national as well as the state level. In the interim, the Governor is doing an excellent job in administrating the state and is in constant touch with all political parties in the discharge of his duties.
It is hoped that the NIA investigation will be taken to its logical conclusions and any foreign hand in orchestration of violence and disruption in the Kashmir Valley will stand exposed with the perpetrators being punished under the law of the land. The people of Kashmir have suffered enough due to inimical foreign interference in their lives and the time has come to put an end to the same.
The intention of the foreign based handlers of the suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar to create a situation of panic within Kashmir and bring it back on to the international map has not accrued the desired results. That Pakistan is rattled by the course of events is evident by the massive propaganda campaign that it has launched against India post the attack. It has attempted to create a twitter storm with the Hash tag #IOKValleyOfTears that is attempting to highlight totally false Human Rights allegations against the Indian army in Kashmir. Prime Minsiter Imran Khan has, in his recent discourses, has spoken openly of persecution of Muslims in India which he says gives credence to the “two nation theory.”
Notwithstanding the coarse attempts to spread misinformation, the fact is that Jammu and Kashmir is safe and progressing on all fronts. The challenge now is to ensure that the environment is not allowed to be vitiated by the attempts of inimical foreign powers at this sensitive point in time when elections are round the corner. Along with the government, the people too need to remain vigilant so as to not fall into the trap of the enemy.
(Onkareshwar Pandey is a senior journalist and Editor: Indian Observer Post)