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Current News — 13 December 2017

The mastermind of the 26/11/2008 attack in Mumbai by Pakistani Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) terrorists Hafiz Saeed was released almost exactly nine years after that attack. Saeed, the founder of the banned LeT, fig leafed as Jamaatud Dawa, a so-called ‘philanthropic’ organisation, but one who still actively heads LeT, was released on court orders that Pakistan could not take any action against him since India had not provided any solid evidence of his involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

Celebrating his release by eating sweets, Saeed was back to his ranting on Kashmir. While even during his custody, there was no let-up in LeT’s attempts at attack in Kashmir Valley, his rants are also a sign of frustration, as in this year by November end itself, an unprecedented number of well over 200 terrorists, have been killed, of which 12o or so are Pakistani, including over 50 of LeT itself. And as many as 40 of them have been of LeT’s ‘commanders’ of various levels/districts. About 10 of the 110 Pakistani terrorists killed are commanders/cadres of Jaish e Mohammad (JEM) and at least three are of Ghazva e Hind, whereas over 80 are of the Kashmiri group, Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM), supported by Pak army/Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

Of these over 200 terrorists mentioned, 72 were killed while crossing the LoC by the Army and at least 130 were killed in the hinterland by Army and SFs and at least four were captured alive, of which one who was severely injured was given medical treatment by Army medics.

A day after Saeed’s release, the bullet-ridden body of a Territorial Army Engineer Regiment soldier, Irfan Ahmed Mir Irfan Ahmed Mir, who was home on leave, was found in Shopian district. This too is an indication of terrorists’ frustration owing to their high attrition rate by the Army and security forces (SFs) including J&K police, some of whose personnel have also been killed.

A question from political quarters is that if so many terrorists have been killed, why is terrorism continuing in the Valley? In her address during the attestation parade of the Police Training School, Kathua, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti stated: “Killing militants won’t wipe out militancy in J&K.”

One of the reasons why terrorism in the Valley cannot end is the unabated efforts of Pak army, ISI, Saeed etc, to induct Pakistani terrorists in the Valley and the separatists providing them support once they have entered. The other more sinister move has been to lure Kashmiri teenagers to join terrorists ranks-not only HuM, but even LeT. Pakistani terrorists infiltrating must be eliminated. For Kashmiri youth radicalised and/or motivated into terrorism, some antidotes to try to wean them away have already been recently initiated, with active support from the Amy and SFs. Videos of a recent call by mothers of Kashmiri terrorists to surrender circulated on social media, have begun bearing some fruit.

Majid Khan, an ace sportsman who joined LeT, surrendered to the Army on November 17, just a week later, after watching a video of an emotive appeal by his mother and sustained social news lobbying by his relatives and friends, urging him to return home. LeT, in an unprecedented move to earn brownie points reportedly issued a statement: “Majid did not surrender. We respected his mother’s call and sent him back to serve his parents as he was their only son.”

IG Police, Kashmir, Munir Khan is reported to have stated: “We will accept the surrender of militants even concurrently the centre of a gunfight. If a local militant puts his hand up concurrently an encounter, we will let him live and help him join the mainstream,”

Going a step further. GOC, Victor Force of Rashtriya Rifles Maj. Gen., B.S. Raju stated that the Army will provide full opportunity to Khan to pursue his career in academics and nourish his sports talent. He said, “The youth who have gone astray and have treaded a wrong path but are not involved in any criminal act should follow Khan’s footsteps and return to the mainstream. Those militants who have been coerced into committing criminal acts can further return within the provisions of law.”

Three days after Majid Khan’s surrender, reportedly another South Kashmir youth who had joined militancy returned home. This prompted two more families from South Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts to make emotional appeals to their sons, who joined militancy, to return. One of two more is Ashiq Hussain Bhat, a trader from Shopian, married for less than a year, who went missing very recently and whose photograph with a gun surfaced on social media. He is believed to have joined LeT. Shortly later followed a video of Bhat’s wife imploring her husband to return, failing which she would commit suicide.

SFs have assured local boys, who took to terrorism but are and are willing to return to their homes, to receive them in an “honorable manner without any harassment”. IG, CRPF (operations) Zulfikar Hassan stated to media: “There are multiple gun-wielding local youth who want to return and are looking for an opportunity. They can dial our helpline number and we will facilitate their return.”

The successes of the Army and SFs in eliminating over 200 terrorists till November end would not have been possible without timely hum-int (human intelligence), information/inputs by local populace of terrorists presence/movement. While since 2016 radicalisation, stone-pelting and heckling of SFs succeeded for at least a year, the turning of the tide is one indication that there were people of the affected Valley districts who became weary of all that. And the drive by the National Intelligence Agency to nab separatists/their close relatives/associates in money laundering also made a significant difference. But this drive will have to be steadily sustained to disable the entire separatists’ network.

Alongside the policy of allowing local/Kashmiri militants to surrender and join the mainstream, a number of other initiatives were given a major push by boosting the decades old Army’s Operation Sadbhavana with added programmes. Spread over all Valley districts the programmes include medical and de-addiction camps, lectures/interaction on some subjects including disaster management, technical training on repairing vehicles, provision of a gymnasium, construction of a much needed bridge and a tour organised by for 22 sarpanches (village heads) from Kishtwar district to New Delhi and Agra.

While since past decades school children have been taken on tours by Army and BSF, this first tour for sarpanches was significant and impactful.

On the aspect of New Delhi or any interlocutor to include Pakistan in peace talks or resolving the Kashmir issue, the latest developments in Pakistan need to be noted. While Saeed has not only been released, he has announced his intent to contest in the elections.

Former dictator-president Gen Parvez Musharraf has reportedly stated: “I am the biggest backer of LeT, Saeed”. Besides, with about fifty odd Pakistani senators being from /closely connected to jihadist groups and Pakistan not paying any heed to US pressure on doing away with them, does it make any sense to consider Pakistan as a ‘stakeholder’ in Kashmir?

A beginning has been made in the Valley recently with some ingenuous use of social media- the same used by terrorists and separatists for radicalising public- by involving parents to wean away Kashmiri youth from terrorism. But for greater and more lasting progress towards peace, pressure will have to be relentlessly maintained on the ground by Army and SFs and simultaneously on separatists to isolate them and break their financial lifeline.

Source link: http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/131217/progress-against-terror-in-kashmir-as-pak-legalises-it.html


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