Terrorism in India, according to the Home Ministry, poses a significant threat to the people of India. Terrorism found in India includes ethno-nationalist terrorism, religious terrorism, left wing terrorism and narco terrorism.
A common definition of terrorism is the systematic use or threatened use of violence to intimidate a population or government for political, religious, or ideological goals.
The regions with long term terrorist activities have been Jammu and Kashmir, east-central and south-central India (Naxalism) and the Seven Sister States. In August 2008, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan has said that there are as many as 800 terrorist cells operating in the country. As of 2013, 205 of the country’s 608 districts were affected by terrorist activity. Terror attacks caused 231 civilian deaths in 2012 in India, compared to 11,098 terror-caused deaths worldwide, according to the State Department of the United States; or about 2% of global terror fatalities while it accounts for 17.5% of global population.
Media reports have alleged and implicated terrorism in India to be sponsored by Pakistan, particularly through its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In 2012, the US accused Pakistan of enabling and ignoring anti-India terrorist cells working on its soil; however, Pakistan has denied its involvement. In July 2016, Government of India released data on a string of terror strikes in India since 2005 that claimed 707 lives and left over 3,200 injured.
The 8th report on terrorism in India published in 2008 defined terrorism as the peacetime equivalent of war crime. An act of terror in India includes any intentional act of violence that causes death, injury or property damage, induces fear, and is targeted against any group of people identified by their political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature. This description is similar to one provided by the United Nations' in 2000.
The Indian government uses the following working definition of terrorism, same as one widely used by Western nations as well as the United Nations, proposed by Schmid and Jongman in 1988.
Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat and violence-based communication processes between terrorist organisation, victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought.
— Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman
India subdivides terrorism in four major groups:
- Ethno-nationalist terrorism - This form of terror focuses either (a) on creating a separate State within India or independent of India or in a neighboring country, or (b) on emphasising the views/response of one ethnic group against another. Violent Tamil Nationalist groups from India to address the condition of Tamils in Sri Lanka, as well as insurgent tribal groups in North East India are examples of ethno-nationalist terrorist activities.
- Religious terrorism - This form of terror focuses on religious imperatives, a presumed duty or in solidarity for a specific religious group, against one or more religious groups. Mumbai 26/11 terror attack in 2008 from an Islamic group in Pakistan is an example of religious terrorism in India.
- Left-wing terrorism - This form of terror focuses on economic ideology, where all the existing socio-political structures are seen to be economically exploitative in character and a revolutionary change through violent means is essential. The ideology of Marx, Engel, Mao, Lenin and others are considered as the only valid economic path. Maoist violence in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are examples of left wing terrorism in India.
- Narcoterrorism - This form of terror focuses on creating illegal narcotics traffic zones. Drug violence in northwest India is an example of narco-terrorism in India.
Terror groups in India
See also: List of organisations banned by the Government of India
SATP (South Asian Terror Portal) has listed 180 terrorist groups that have operated within India over the last 20 years, many of them co-listed as transnational terror networks operating in or from neighboring South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. Of these, 38 are on the current list of terrorist organisations banned by India under its First Schedule of the UA(P) Act, 1967. As of 2012, many of these were also listed and banned by the United States and European Union.
Chronology of major incidents
Main article: List of terrorist incidents in India
Mumbai has been the most preferred target for most terrorist organisations, many operating with a base from Pakistan. Over the past few years there have been a series of attacks, including explosions in Mumbai Suburban trains in July 2006, and the most recent and unprecedented attacks of 26 November 2008, when two of the prime hotels, a landmark train station, and a Jewish Chabad house, in South Mumbai, were attacked and sieged.
Terrorist attacks in Mumbai include:
- 13 February 2010 - a bomb explosion at the German Bakery in Pune killed fourteen people, and injured at least 60 more
- 1 August 2012 - four bomb explosion at various locations on JM Road, Pune injured 1 person
Jammu and Kashmir
Main article: Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
Armed insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir has killed tens of thousands to date.
Northern and Northwestern India
Main article: 2013 Patna bombings
On 27 October 2013, seven crude bombs exploded in Bihar during an election rally. One was in the Patna Junction railway station, and another near a cinema hall. One person died and six were injured in these two blasts.
In July 2013, nine bombs exploded in a terror attack at the Bodh Gaya temple complex, a Buddhist shrine, where the Buddha himself is said to have gained enlightenment. In 2014, members of banned Indian Mujahideen and Students Islamic Movement of India were accused and arrested for the blasts.
In the 1980s, an insurgent movement turned to violence, seeking a separate state called Khalistan, independent of India. They were led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who was neutral on the establishment of a new state.
In 1984, Operation Blue Star was conducted by the Indian government to confront the movement. It involved an assault on the Golden Temple complex, which Sant Bhindranwale had fortified in preparation of an army assault. Indira Gandhi, India's then prime minister, ordered the military to storm the temple, who eventually had to use tanks. After a 74-hour firefight, the army successfully took control of the temple. In doing so, it damaged some portions of the Akal Takht, the Sikh Reference Library, and the Golden Temple itself. According to Indian government sources, 83 army personnel were killed and 249 were injured. Militant casualties were 493 killed and 86 injured.
During the same year, the assassination of Indira Gandhi by two Sikh bodyguards, believed to be driven by the Golden Temple affair, resulted in widespread anti-Sikh riots, especially in New Delhi. Following Operation Black Thunder in 1988, Punjab Police, first under Julio Ribeiro and then under KPS Gill, together with the Indian Army, eventually succeeded in pushing the movement underground.
In 1985, Sikh terrorists bombed an Air India flight from Canada to India, killing all 329 people on board Air India Flight 182. It was one of the worst terrorist act in Canada's history.
The ending of Sikh militancy and the desire for a Khalistan catalysed when the then-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, handed all intelligence material concerning Punjab militancy to the Indian government, as a goodwill gesture. The Indian government used that intelligence to arrest those who were behind attacks in India and militancy.
The ending of overt Sikh militancy in 1993 led to a period of relative calm, punctuated by militant acts (for example, the assassination of Punjab CM, Beant Singh, in 1995) attributed to half a dozen or so operating Sikh militant organisations. These organisations include Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Commando Force, Khalistan Liberation Force, and Khalistan Zindabad Force.
2011 High court bombing
Main article: 2011 Delhi bombing
The 2011 Delhi bombing took place in the Indian capital Delhi on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 at 10:14 local time outside Gate No. 5 of the Delhi High Court, where a suspected briefcase bomb was planted. The blast killed 12 people and injured 76.
2007 Delhi security summit
Main article: 2007 Delhi security summit
The Delhi summit on security took place on 14 February 2007 with the foreign ministers of China, India, and Russia meeting in Hyderabad House, Delhi, India, to discuss terrorism, drug trafficking, reform of the United Nations, and the security situations in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.
2005 Delhi bombings
Main article: 29 October 2005 Delhi bombings
Three explosions went off in the Indian capital of New Delhi on 29 October 2005, which killed more than 60 people and injured at least 200 others. The high number of casualties made the bombings the deadliest attack in India in 2005. It was followed by 5 bomb blasts on 13 September 2008.
2001 Attack on Indian parliament
Main article: 2001 Indian Parliament attack
Terrorists on 13 December 2001 attacked the Parliament of India, resulting in a 45-minute gun battle in which 9 policemen and parliament staff were killed. All five terrorists were also killed by the security forces and were identified as Pakistani nationals. The attack took place around 11:40 am (IST), minutes after both Houses of Parliament had adjourned for the day. The suspected terrorists dressed in commando fatigues entered Parliament in a car through the VIP gate of the building. Displaying Parliament and Home Ministry security stickers, the vehicle entered the Parliament premises. The terrorists set off massive blasts and used AK-47 rifles, explosives, and grenades for the attack. Senior Ministers and over 200 members of parliament were inside the Central Hall of Parliament when the attack took place. Security personnel sealed the entire premises, which saved many lives.
2005 Ayodhya attacks
Main article: 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack in Ayodhya
The long simmering Ayodhya crisis finally culminated in a terrorist attack on the site of the 16th century Babri Masjid. The ancient Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished on 5 July 2005. Following the two-hour gunfight between Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists based in Pakistan and Indian police, in which six terrorists were killed, opposition parties called for a nationwide strike with the country's leaders condemning the attack, believed to have been masterminded by Dawood Ibrahim.
2010 Varanasi blasts
Main article: 2010 Varanasi bombing
On 7 December 2010, another blast occurred in Varanasi, that killed immediately a toddler, and set off a stampede in which 20 people, including four foreigners, were injured. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamist militant group Indian Mujahideen.
2006 Varanasi blasts
Main article: 2006 Varanasi bombings
A series of blasts occurred across the Hindu holy city of Varanasi on 7 March 2006. Fifteen people are reported to have been killed and as many as 101 others were injured. On 5 April 2006 the Indian police arrested six Islamic militants, including a cleric who helped plan bomb blasts. The cleric is believed to be a commander of a banned Bangladeshi Islamic militant group, Harkatul Jihad-al Islami, and is linked to the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani spy agency.
Main article: Insurgency in North-East India
Northeastern India consists of seven states (also known as the seven sisters): Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland. Tensions exists between these states and the central government, as well as amongst the tribal people, who are natives of these states, and migrant peoples from other parts of India.
The states have accused New Delhi of ignoring the issues concerning them. It is this feeling which has led the natives of these states to seek greater participation in self-governance. There are existing territorial disputes between Manipur and Nagaland.
Northeastern regional tension has eased of late with Indian and state governments' concerted effort to raise the living standards of the people in these regions. However, militancy still exists in this region of India supported by external sources.
After the independence of India in 1947, the area remained a part of the province of Assam. Nationalist activities arose amongst a section of the Nagas. Phizo-led Naga National Council and demanded a political union of their ancestral and native groups. The movement led to a series of violent incidents, that damaged government and civil infrastructure, attacked government officials and civilians. The union government sent the Indian Army in 1955, to restore order. In 1957, an agreement was reached between Naga leaders and the Indian government, creating a single separate region of the Naga Hills. The Tuensang frontier were united with this single political region, Naga Hills Tuensang Area (NHTA), and it became a Union territory directly administered by the Central government with a large degree of autonomy. This was not satisfactory to the tribes, however, and agitation with violence increased across the state – including attacks on army and government institutions, banks, as well as non-payment of taxes. In July 1960, following discussion between the then Prime Minister Nehru and the leaders of the Naga People Convention (NPC), a 16-point agreement was arrived at whereby the Government of India recognised the formation of Nagaland as a full-fledged state within the Union of India.
Nagaland became the 16th state of the Indian Union on 1 December 1963. After elections in January 1964, the first democratically elected Nagaland Legislative Assembly was constituted on 11 February 1964. The rebel activity continued, in the form of banditry and attacks, motivated more by inter-factional tribal rivalry and personal vendetta than by political aspiration. In November 1975, the leaders of largest rebellion groups agreed to lay down their arms and accept the Indian constitution, a small group did not agree and continued their insurgent activity.
Over the 5-year period of 2009 to 2013, between 0 and 11 civilians died per year in Nagaland from rebellion related activity (or less than 1 death per year per 100,000 people), and between 3 and 55 militants deaths per year in inter-factional killings (or between 0 and 3 deaths per 100,000 people). The most recent Nagaland Legislative Assembly election took place on 23 February 2013 to elect the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from each of the 60 Assembly Constituencies in the state. The voter turnout was 83% and Nagaland People's Front was elected to power with 37 seats.
After Nagaland, Assam is the most volatile state in the region. Beginning in 1979, the indigenous people of Assam demanded that the illegal immigrants who had emigrated from Bangladesh to Assam be detected and deported. The movement led by All Assam Students Union began non-violently with satyagraha, boycotts, picketing, and courting arrests.
Those protesting frequently came under police action. In 1983 an election was conducted, which was opposed by the movement leaders. The election led to widespread violence. The movement finally ended after the movement leaders signed an agreement (called the Assam Accord) with the central government on 15 August 1985.
Under the provisions of this accord, anyone who entered the state illegally between January 1966 and March 1971 was allowed to remain but was disenfranchised for ten years, while those who entered after 1971 faced expulsion. A November 1985 amendment to the Indian citizenship law allows non-citizens who entered Assam between 1961 and 1971 to have all the rights of citizenship except the right to vote for a period of ten years.
New Delhi also gave special administration autonomy to the Bodos in the state. However, the Bodos demanded a separate Bodoland, which led to a clash between the Bengalis, the Bodos, and the Indian military resulting in hundreds of deaths.
There are several organisations that advocate the independence of Assam. The most prominent of these is the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). Formed in 1979, the ULFA has two main goals: the independence of Assam and the establishment of a socialist government.
The ULFA has carried out several terrorist attacks in the region targeting the Indian Military and non-combatants. The group assassinates political opponents, attacks police and other security forces, blasts railroad tracks, and attacks other infrastructure facilities. The ULFA is believed to have strong links with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), Maoists, and the Naxalites.
It is also believed that they carry out most of their operations from the Kingdom of Bhutan. Because of ULFA's increased visibility, the Indian government outlawed the group in 1986 and declared Assam a troubled area. Under pressure from New Delhi, Bhutan carried a massive operation to drive out the ULFA militants from its territory.
Backed by the Indian Army, Thimphu was successful in killing more than a thousand terrorists and extraditing many more to India while sustaining only 120 casualties. The Indian military undertook several successful operations aimed at countering future ULFA terrorist attacks, but the ULFA continues to be active in the region. In 2004, the ULFA targeted a public school in Assam, killing 19 children and 5 adults.
Assam remains the only state in the northeast where terrorism is still a major issue. On 18 September 2005, a soldier was killed in Jiribam, Manipur, near the Manipur-Assam border, by members of the ULFA. On 14 March 2011, Bodo militants of the Ranjan Daimary-led faction ambushed patrolling troop of BSF when on way from Bangladoba in Chirang district of Assam to Ultapani in Kokrajhar killing 8 jawans.
On 5 August 2016, a terrorist attack was reported in the market area Balajan Tinali of the city of Kokrajhar that resulted in deaths of 14 civilians and injuries to 15 others. Three terrorists, suspected to be Bodo militants, were reported to have attacked using AK-47 and used a grenade.
Like its sister states in Northeast, Manipur has experienced years of insurgency and inter-ethnic violence while it was part of Assam and sought more rights. The state joined India on 21 September 1949, when Maharaja Budhachandra signed a Treaty of Accession merging the kingdom into India; this merger was disputed by various groups in Manipur as having been completed without consensus and under duress. Manipur was part of Assam after 1949, became a Union Territory in 1956. The first armed opposition group in Manipur, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), was founded in 1964, which declared that it wanted to gain more rights or outright independence from India. After several rounds of negotiations, Manipur became a full state in 1972 along with several other sister states of the Northeast. Post statehood, more groups continued to form in Manipur, each with different goals, and deriving support from diverse ethnic groups in Manipur. For example, in 1977 the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) was formed, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was formed in 1978. In 1980, the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) was formed. These groups began a spree of bank robberies and attacks on police officers and government buildings. The state government appealed to the central government in New Delhi for support in combating this violence. In 1980, the central government brought the entire state of Manipur under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) because its state government claimed that the use of the Armed Forces in aid of the state and local police is necessary to prevent violent deaths and to maintain law and order.
The violence in Manipur includes significant inter-ethnic tribal rivalry. There is violence between the Meiteis, Nagas, Kukis and other tribal groups. They have formed splinter groups who disagree with each other. Other than UNLF, PLA and PREPAK mentioned above, other Manipuri insurgent groups include Revolutionary Peoples Front (RPF), Manipur Liberation Front Army (MLFA), Kanglei Yawol Khnna Lup (KYKL), Revolutionary Joint Committee (RJC), Peoples United Liberation Front (PULF), Kuki National Front (KNF), Kuki National Army (KNA), Kuki Defence Force (KDF), Kuki Democratic Movement (KDM), Kuki National Organisation (KNO), Kuki Security Force (KSF), Chin Kuki Revolutionary Front (CKRF), Kom Rem Peoples Convention (KRPC), Zomi Revolutionary Volunteers (ZRV), Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), Zomi Reunification Organisation (ZRO), and Hmar Peoples Convention (HPC).
According to SATP (the South Asian Terrorism Portal), there has been a large decline in fatalities in Manipur in recent decades. Since 2010, about 25 civilians have died in militants-related violence (about 1 per 100,000 people), dropping further to 21 civilian deaths in 2013 (or 0.8 per 100,000 people). Most of these deaths have been from inter-factional violence. Elections have been held regularly over recent decades. The last state assembly elections were held in 2012, with 79.2% voter turnout and the incumbent re-elected to power.
In 1947, Mizoram was part of Assam, and its districts were controlled by hereditary tribal chiefs. The educated elites among the Mizos campaigned against the tribal chiefdom under the banner of Mizo Union. As a result of their campaign, the hereditary rights of the 259 chiefs were abolished under the Assam-Lushai District (Acquisition of Chief's Rights) Act, 1954. Village courts, which used to exist prior to British colonial re-structuring of Assam, were re-implemented in Mizo region. All of these regions were frustrated by these arrangements and centralized Assam governance. The Mizos were particularly dissatisfied with the government's inadequate response to the 1959–60 mautam famine. The Mizo National Famine Front, a body formed for famine relief in 1959, later developed into a new political organisation, the Mizo National Front (MNF) in 1961. A period of protests and armed insurgency followed in the 1960s, with MNF seeking independence from India.
In 1971, the government agreed to convert the Mizo Hills into a Union Territory, which came into being as Mizoram in 1972. Following the Mizoram Peace Accord (1986) between the Government and the MNF, Mizoram was declared a full-fledged state of India in 1987. Mizoram got two seats in the Parliament, one each in the Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha. Per the accord, insurgents surrendered their arms. The first election of Mizoram Legislative Assembly was held on 16 February 1987. Elections have been held at 5 year intervals since then. The most recent Mizoram elections were held for 40 seats of legislative assembly on 25 November 2013. The voter turnout was 81%. The Indian National Congress led by Lal Thanhawla was re-elected to power. The region has been peaceful in recent decades. Between 2006 and 2013, between 0 and 2 civilians have died each year from any protest-related violence (or less than 0.2 people per 100,000).
2008 Bangalore serial blasts occurred on 25 July 2008 in Bangalore, India. A series of nine bombs exploded in which two people were killed and 20 injured. According to the Bangalore City Police, the blasts were caused by low-intensity crude bombs triggered by timers.
2010 Bangalore stadium bombing occurred on 17 April 2010 in M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, India. Two bombs exploded in a heavily packed Cricket stadium in which fifteen people were injured. A third bomb was found and defused outside the stadium.
Andhra Pradesh is one of the few southern states affected by terrorism, although of a far different kind and on a much smaller scale. The terrorism in Andhra Pradesh stems from the People's War Group (PWG), popularly known as Naxalites.
The PWG has been operating in India for over two decades, with most of its operations in the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh. The group is also active in Odisha and Bihar. Unlike the Kashmiri insurgents and ULFA, PWG is a Maoist terrorist organisation and communism is one of its primary goals.
Having failed to capture popular support in the elections, they resorted to violence as a means to voice their opinions. The group targets Indian Police, multinational companies, and other influential institutions in the name of the communism. PWG has also targeted senior government officials, including the attempted assassination of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.
It reportedly has a strength of 800 to 1,000 well armed militants and is believed to have close links with the Maoists in Nepal and the LTTE of Sri Lanka. According to the Indian government, on an average, more than 60 civilians, 60 naxal rebels and a dozen policemen are killed every year because of PWG led insurgency.
25 August 2007 Hyderabad bombings, two bombs exploded almost simultaneously on 25 August 2007 in Hyderabad, capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The first bomb exploded in Lumbini Amusement Park at 19:45 hrs IST. The second bomb exploded five minutes later at 19:50 in Gokul Chat Bhandar.
The Mecca Masjid bombing occurred on 18 May 2007 inside the Mecca Masjid, (or "Makkah Masjid") a mosque the old city area in Hyderabad, capital of the Indianstate of Andhra Pradesh located very close to Charminar. The blast was caused by a cellphone-triggered pipe bomb. Fourteen people were reported dead in the immediate aftermath, of whom five(official record:disputed) were killed by the police firing after the incident while trying to quell the mob.
The most recent 2013 Hyderabad blasts occurred around 19:00 IST. The two blasts occurred in the Indian city of Hyderabad's Dilsukhnagar. The simultaneous blasts occurred near a bus stop and a cinema.
Tamil Nadu had LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) militants operating in the Tamil Nadu state up until the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. LTTE had given many speeches in Tamil Nadu led by Velupillai Prabhakaran, Tamilselvan, and other Eelam members. The Tamil Tigers, now a banned organisation, had been receiving many donations and support from India in the past. The Tamil Nadu Liberation Army is a militant Tamil movement in India that has ties to LTTE.
Meenambakkam bomb blast
Meenambakkam bomb blast was an explosion that occurred on 2 August 1984 at Meenambakkam International Airport at Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 33 persons were killed and 27 others were injured. The Tamil Eelam Army was suspected. Several members were convicted in 1998.
1998 Coimbatore bombings
Tamil Nadu also faced terrorist attacks orchestrated by Muslim fundamentalists. For more information, see 1998 Coimbatore bombings.
In popular culture
Terrorism has also been depicted in various Indian films, prominent among them being Mani Ratnam's Roja (1992) and Dil Se.. (1998), Govind Nihlani's Drohkaal (1994), Santosh Sivan's The Terrorist (1999), Anurag Kashyap's Black Friday
Kashmir remains an open question. But the answer does not lie in branding protesters as terrorists and using brute force to stifle dissent. An ad hoc accord is the need of the hour. By A.G. NOORANI
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi has decided to kill the soul of Kashmir and has provided ample warning that the worst is yet to come. The people’s revolt will be crushed by military force, deployed under a thick smokescreen of falsehoods to silence whatever little dissent there is in India on Kashmir, delude international public opinion and appease the United States in the name of combating terrorism. The door is shut on any real dialogue on Kashmir with Pakistan or with the people of Kashmir. The real agenda, which is viciously communal, has been laid bare. Worst of all, Modi has decided, like his natural ally, the U.S., to trample on international law. It is a reckless game to play to buttress power at home. The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, is a willing accomplice, using her own brand of rhetoric to deceive her people.
On August 8, The Telegraph published a revealing report by the well-informed Sankarshan Thakur from New Delhi: “This newspaper has been given to understand by those close to formulating the strategy in Kashmir that the Centre is inclined to move even further away from political engagement and deploy a stricter security regime across the Valley. Top army commanders based in the State met Mehbooba Mufti two days ago; they are meant to have discussed contingency plans to deploy the armed forces visibly across the Valley and along the national highway to Jammu, a chronic militant ambush zone.”
On the very same day, The Asian Age published a report from Srinagar by a respected correspondent, Yusuf Jameel: “The government is reported to have decided to assign the Army a ‘bigger and more useful’ role in resolving the crisis triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on 8 July.”
On August 9, The Telegraph published Imran Ahmed Siddiqui’s report from New Delhi: “Sources in the Union Home Ministry said the government intended to act tough and would deploy more armed forces across the Valley to tackle the surge of protests.” Mehbooba Mufti met Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on August 8.
Burhan Wani was killed on July 8. Shishir Gupta reported three days later that the “security agencies have not picked up any communication intercepts from Pakistan inciting separatists in the Valley” (HindustanTimes, July 12). Nirupama Subramanian reported that the militancy was “leaderless”. None of the Hurriyat leaders could control it. “The fierce resistance put up by local communities, from under 10-year-olds to senior citizens, at encounter sites, and the mass displays of anger more than grief at their funerals, is now all too well known.… What this approach has done is to bring out kids as young as eight or 12 years old, to whom defiance of the Indian state is now as natural as playing cricket” (The Indian Express, July 12).
There were 7,000 militants who operated in Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s. “The figure is currently pegged at around 200” (Hindustan Times, July 12). This is the reality. The official version is a farrago of manifest, demonstrable falsehood. “Whatever is happening in Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored” (Rajnath Singh, July 10). “In the fight against separatism the people of Kashmir are with the country” (Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister, on July 18); “[There is a… mindset that stokes] baseless anger against India” (Rajnath Singh, July 21).
Narendra Modi first spoke on the crisis only a month later on August 9 at Bhabra in Madhya Pradesh in these terms: “gullible and simple youth”; that is, they had no views or emotions of their own; “democratic values”; “Kashmir has the same freedom that every Indian has”; “a handful of misguided people”; “stones are being handed to innocent children” and “we want Kashmir to attain new heights of development”; “Kashmir has the same freedom that every Indian feels”.
These statements are manifestly false, belied by reports in major Indian dailies. They were not escapist; they were a part of a strategy of suppression by deed with denial in words as its companion. Very significantly, there was no reference to Pakistan at all, nor to Balochistan. They came as an afterthought (Hindustan Times and The Asian Age, August 10). That very day, someone else also spoke up for the first time and in these strong words. “Prevarication and deflection of responsibility.” (Both words had been used in the past.) “The problem in Kashmir is about the people of Kashmir and their political aspirations—neither about any other country nor about terrorism.” He urged India to “engage with the people of Kashmir” and to have “a sustained, comprehensive political dialogue on Kashmir” with Pakistan. The speaker was Farooq Abdullah (Kashmir Times, August 10).
It was at the all-party meeting on August 12 that Modi revealed his tactics, which he refined on August 15. He would take the battle into the opponent’s camp, accomplishing three aims in one go—appease the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) constituency, threaten Pakistan, and silence Kashmiris, whose “genuine grievances” he would redress. One who says that is either ignorant or deliberately rejects the truth. “Pakistan was at the root of the current unrest.” It must “answer for its atrocities in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir [PoK]”.
Matters of irrelevance
This has escaped notice. Modi “internationalised” Kashmir by inviting the world to notice the happenings there. “The time has come for Pakistan to explain to the world community about excesses committed in PoK and Balochistan.” Indeed, “the Foreign Ministry should take initiatives to develop contact with citizens of PoK settled abroad and apprise them about how their family and friends are treated there”. Similarly, violation of human rights in Balochistan should be brought to the attention of the global audience (The Times of India, August 13).
As to the first part, Ajit Doval will tell him that the task devolves on the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), which has long been on this job. Kallol Bhattacharjee reported in The Hindu of August 15 about what “representatives of the Free Balochistan Movement (FBM) based in Delhi and London” told him. One of them, Balaach Pardili Baloch, “who has been a resident in India for some years, was appointed the representative of the FBM in October 2015 when he first addressed a public event in Delhi”. So, Yusuf Raza Gilani was not wrong, after all, in raising the issue India’s interference in Balochistan with Manmohan Singh at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on July 16, 2009. All that the joint statement said was: “Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas.” Sheikh Abdullah and Mirza Afzal were interned for nearly three years for meeting Zhou Enlai in Algiers in 1965. As to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) being tasked with raising these matters before the “world community”, nothing would suit Pakistan more.
Modi mentioned two other issues. One was that “we should talk about four parts of Jammu and Kashmir—Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and PoK”. Why and how was it relevant to the immediate crisis? The motive is evident—box and isolate the Valley by talking about the other areas. In 1995, this writer was treated to a long PowerPoint discourse in Srinagar by a Corps Commander, Lt Gen. J.K. Mukherjee, to establish that Kashmiris are not in a majority in the Valley. On retirement, he wrote an article in The Statesman to prove that. The motive was: the Valley matters not. It can be ignored. Even more sinister was Modi’s reference to Kashmiri Pandits’ displacement. The relevance of these two matters to the immediate crisis is dubious.
On August 15, Modi gave his rhetoric free rein. “When innocent children were massacred in Peshawar, the Indian Parliament wept; every school in India shed tears at this tragedy.” The media, print and electronic, were sorely remiss in not reporting these lugubrious events. One wonders if he himself wept then, or over the pogrom in Gujarat in 2002. His charge that “some people glorify terrorists in our country” reveals discomfiture at the unwelcome publicity which the protests and the armed forces’ excesses in the Valley had received.
Unwittingly, Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister, knocked the bottom out of Modi’s theatrical outpourings on August 12, immediately after Modi’s speech. Anand Mishra reported: “Asked why the Prime Minister had raised the issue of Balochistan and PoK, Jaitley said Modi’s remarks were in the context of Pakistan’s ‘interference in the internal affairs of India’” (The Indian Express, August 13). So, they were not the outpourings of a bleeding heart but the riposte of an adversary.
A calm appraisal will reveal that to score debating points India’s Prime Minister has wantonly damaged the national interest. His remarks are irrelevant to the needs of a grave situation, futile as a remedy, and are counterproductive. His “natural ally”, the U.S., will be alarmed for reasons more than one. On August 9, the State Department’s spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau told the press: “We stand with Pakistan as they move forward on this fight against terror” (Kashmir Times, August 10).
Alarm in neighbourhood
As an empty threat, Modi’s statement will earn ridicule. As a hint of intervention, it will cause alarm. The Hindu rightly remarked, on August 16: “In what was perhaps intended as a hint of India’s capability to intervene, in an unspecified manner, in Balochistan, he said the people there had commended him for highlighting attacks against them by people within Pakistan. The warning sent out was that if Pakistan continues to interfere in Kashmir, India can do likewise, making an issue over the violence in Balochistan. Other than further escalating tensions between the two countries, it is difficult to see what can come out of such aggressive posturing on the internal problems of Pakistan.”
Dissent within Balochistan and the PoK will be undermined, just as the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy in Pakistan was, when Indira Gandhi lent it her support in the days of Zia-ul-Haq. While extremists in the country will be elated (the RSS, particularly), Kashmir will view the ploy with disgust. Proclamation of an interventionist policy will alarm Nepal and Sri Lanka, who have borne the brunt of India’s interventions in the past. Iran is unlikely to be pleased.
And China? K.P. Nayar’s well-informed report in The Telegraph (August 16) is noteworthy. He suggests that the policy has long been in the making. The Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, was invited to Modi’s swearing-in ceremony and posed for a group photograph of South Asian leaders with Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee “as if he were a head of state”. At the same time, a representative of the government in Taiwan “was smuggled into the diplomatic enclosure where she sat with Ambassadors”. Nayar was told by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership at its highest level that these incidents were indicative of the future policies of the Modi government. A top BJP leader said on the background: “If the Chinese do not give up their claim on Arunachal Pradesh or give us pinpricks in Kashmir, we will use Tibetan Independence and Uighur dissidence against them.… The diplomatic game will no longer be one-sided.” The Hindustan Times’ correspondent wrote that the message that China was supposed to get from this (the speech) was: “Keep Pakistan’s generals out of Kashmir or your fears about India sabotaging the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor could come true.” It passes through PoK. China is unlikely to comply, still less abandon its claim to Arunachal Pradesh.
Does Modi intend to act on his bold rhetoric? If not, he will cut a sorry figure. The passage of time will make matters worse. On August 17, “top government sources” said, obviously as instructed, that “humanity does not stop at the borders” (The Asian Age, August 18). Why not then accede to the request by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, to permit his team access to Jammu and Kashmir and PoK, as he requested Pakistan? “I deeply regret that our requests for access have not been granted” (Hindustan Times, August 18).
India has a very bad record of refusal to the U.N.’s Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights. The High Commissioner’s team will be well qualified to judge the veracity of claims of Pakistan’s sponsorship of the post-July 8 protests. Humans can lie; photographs do not. For years, newspapers have published photographs of women wailing at the windows as the massively attended funeral processions of slain militants passed by. On one single day, August 17, two dailies published on the front page colour photographs of masses of Kashmiris shouting pro-azadi slogans during funeral marches at two different places: The Hindu at Budgam and The Asian Age at the village Aripanthan, West of Srinagar. On August 5, protest rallies were held after Friday prayers in around 45 places in the 10 districts of the Valley. Pakistanis do not put stones in the hands of eight- to 12-year-olds.
Mehbooba Mufti’s role and rhetoric
Mehbooba Mufti’s rhetoric is hard to follow: attacks on Pakistan and pleas for talks with it in one and the same speech. Not one reporter supports her charge that protesters used “children as a shield”. They report, instead, that the kids are out of control and act with ferocious zeal. Her speech is perilously close to that of Sir Humphrey Appleby in retirement: “Disengaged the operation of his mind from the content of his speech.”
However, a method lurks beneath the madness, which was exposed with sheer brilliance by a 23-year-old scholar from Tufts University in Britain, Niya Shahdad. It bears quotation in extenso. “When Mehbooba declares that the ‘sacrifices of these innocent children will not go waste’, she cloaks her claims in the kind of doublespeak that reeks of a politician’s deception and desperation. The very implications upon which that guise of condemnation is built—that these children are innocent because they have been ‘misled’ onto a path of ‘senseless’ violence by ‘certain internal forces’ or otherwise—dismisses every conscious sacrifice of those left dead and wounded while fighting an oppressor whose name she can no longer spell today. If there is anyone acting under the influence of others, it is the CM alone; a puppet communicating through the gestures designed and approved by New Delhi.… [She attempts to] appease us with the language of our struggle, but the meanings hidden underneath those words militate against that very struggle. The violence she describes as ‘senseless’ is truly senseless, but not because the children are taking to the streets instead of schools. It is senseless because a five-year-old Nasir Ahmed Khan is found on the street with a needle and sand pierced into his eyes.… Kashmir has been independent and existed outside of the Indian nation-state for a long time now. Today, if there is a silver lining amid its time of bleeding and mourning, it is that it inches closer to standing independent of those forces that act, oppress and deceive from within” (The Indian Express, August 8; emphasis added throughout).
As A.S. Dulat said: “She has become too much a part of Delhi and has left the current problem to the Centre.” Enough of Mehbooba Mufti, for now. After the Suez debate, Aneurin Bevan, on seeing Prime Minister Harold Macmillan enter the House, ceased questioning the Foreign Minister Selwyn Lloyd, remarking: “Why should I question the monkey when I can question the organ grinder?”
To turn to the least worthy of the performers, one Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, spearheaded the Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti in Jammu that called for a blockade of the Valley in 2008. In Parliament on August 10, he coined a new term “intellectual terrorism” and “anti-India intellectualism”, a poor reflection on his intellect. Dissent terrorises him. His soulmate Lt Gen. B.S. Jaswal, Commander-in-Chief Northern Command, dubbed political protest “agitational terrorism” on October 31, 2010. Jitendra Singh expatiated on August 13: “One more battle for freedom is pending and that is to liberate the people of PoK from illegal occupation of Pakistan so that they can be reunited with India.”
But, what “freedom” do the people of Kashmir enjoy? Harinder Baweja reported from Srinagar on August 15: “As India and Indians prepare to celebrate Independence day and the freedoms we gained, let us pause for a moment to think of the lack of any ‘azadi’ in Kashmir, which is often called the crown on India’s head. The crown is bereft of sheen, of jewels, of ‘Indian-ness’. Every Kashmiri is locked up at home because of the government’s fear that Pakistani flags might flutter atop buildings, that black flags might mar the celebrations of the nation’s birth.… Local militants, who now outnumber Pakistani terrorists in the Valley, are on an upswing after Wani’s death” (Hindustan Times, August 15).
Omar Abdullah, the National Conference leader, seized an opportunity to occupy the ground the Muftis had vacated by convening a meeting of opposition parties in Srinagar on August 17—the Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the People’s Democratic Front, the Democratic Nationalist Party and Engineer Abdul Rasheed’s Awami Ittehad. Omar Abdullah said: “Pakistan is not behind the present situation.” The meeting called for a special session of the State Assembly, a judicial inquiry into the excesses by the security forces, a ban on the use of pellet guns, and dialogue with all the stakeholders. He also called for talks with Pakistan (The Hindu, August 18).
However, this is what Omar Abdullah said on July 23: India had been “dishonest with the people of Jammu and Kashmir”. He cited its limited accession and said: “You have gradually whittled that away to the point that autonomy is a fig leaf to what it was in 1947” (Hindustan Times, July 24). But in the six years he was in office, not once did he raise the issue. In 2014, he would have accepted the BJP as a coalition partner. The tragedy of Kashmir has been the moral bankruptcy of its Chief Ministers, from the Bakshi (1953) to the Mufti (2016). The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, C.V. Vigneswaran, boldly attacks Colombo for its wrongs. On August 18, he alleged that 104 ex-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) men were injected with poison at rehabilitation centres. He can do so because he does not owe his job to Colombo. Unlike India, Sri Lanka is honest about elections (The Hindu, August 19). There is no fiddling by spooks and political parties of the Centre.
Modi’s speech in Parliament on August 12 had a sinister bit which lies at the core of his pact with the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (PDP). This was his reference to the return of the Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley. And thereby hangs a tale. The coalition took power on March 1, 2015. On April 7, 2015, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was put on the mat by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh; the Mufti obliged. It was disclosed that the Minister had asked the Mufti to provide land for “composite townships” for Kashmiri Pandits and in direct quotes: “The Chief Minister assured the Union Home Minister that the [Kashmir]… government will acquire and provide land in the Valley at the earliest.”
The Mufti inherited the problem from Omar Abdullah when he was Chief Minister. Naeem Akhtar, State Education Minister, said on May 19: “We will make land available where both Pandits and Dogras can live peacefully.” The Pandits “will live in transit accommodation… to provide breathing space till they feel confident to move to their original places”. Mehbooba Mufti said Kashmiri Pandits would comprise half of the inmates. “We can’t throw them like pigeons before the cats,” she remarked. The offensive remark about her people reveals her outlook.
On July 24, it was reported that in May the Mufti regime had identified seven places in the Valley’s 10 districts “and had started work on the ground”, a fact that was suppressed. About 9,01,775 acres had been identified. These were Mehbooba Mufti’s “transit colonies”. Divisional Commissioners had begun acquiring the land. An official said that the State “must not talk about these clusters for some time as, given the resentment in the population, it could well backfire” (Yusuf Jameel, The Asian Age, July 24). This was the unsaid part of the PDP-BJP alliance.
Nuances of terrorism
It is dishonest to call Kashmiri protesters “terrorists”. Were Aurobindo Ghose and Bhagat Singh “terrorists”? They used the gun and paid the price for it. The history of India’s freedom struggle is studded with violent revolutions (see the British Intelligence Bureau’s studies Political Troubles in India [1907-1917] and Terrorism in India [1917-1936]). On the Quit India Movement, K.M. Munshi wrote: “Truth to tell, what they did was anybody’s business. It was certainly not non-violent even at the start” (Pilgrimage to Freedom, Volume1, page 83).
In the Central Legislative Assembly, a member explained the nuances of terrorism on September 16, 1924. The Viceroy Lord Mayo’s assassination was not a “political assassination” but murder by a man who had a grievance. But, “why do these young men, bright youths who have drunk at your own literature and who have imbibed those principles of liberty and freedom, come together in secret organisations in order to assassinate you, the very people who have taught those fine principles? Why? Because they feel that this (British) government do not respond to their aspirations, to their ideals and to their ambition to secure complete political freedom for their country. Now, Sir, you are not going to put this right unless you meet those aspirations and those principles.… The way to prevent bombs being thrown is to meet the people, respond to their feelings, their sentiments and their legitimate and proper aspirations.”
On September 12, 1929, he amplified: “I think I am speaking on behalf of a very large body of people when I say that, if there is sympathy and admiration for the accused, it is only to this extent, that they are the victim of the system of government. It is not that we approve or applaud their actions if they are guilty, which still remains to be proved.… You know perfectly well that these men are determined to die. It is not a joke. I ask the Honourable Law Member to realise that it is not everybody who can go on starving himself to death. Try it for a little while and you will see.…
“Mind you, Sir, I do not approve of the action of Bhagat Singh, and I say this on the floor of this House. I regret that rightly or wrongly youth today in India is stirred up, and you cannot, when you have three hundred and odd millions of people, you cannot prevent such crimes being committed, however much you may deplore them and however much you may say that they are misguided. It is the system, this damnable system of government, which is resented by the people.” He was none other than Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
Prof. Robert A. Pape is one of the world’s foremost authorities on suicide terrorism. His book Dying to Win is based on a study of 315 cases from 1980 to 2003. He concludes: “What nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal to compel modern democracies to withdraw their military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.”
By this test, the Kashmiri is not a terrorist, but David Headley, Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed & co. and the perpetrators of the Mumbai and Pathankot attacks are criminals to the core, out to inflict damage on a foreign country. Even Omar Abdullah said on October 28, 2009, in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: “The youth of Kashmir did not pick up the gun 21 years ago for money but for political reasons” (Greater Kashmir, October 29, 2009). For long, Amnesty International would only adopt as “prisoner of conscience” one “who does not advocate violence”. South Africa induced change.
India’s policy on terrorism has been double-faced. The summit that founded the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Dhaka on December 8, 1985, took up the issue of terrorism. The result was the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, which India ratified on August 22, 1988, but after it was suitably defanged. Article 7 says absurdly: “Contracting states shall not be obliged to extradite, if it appears to the requested state that by reason of the trivial nature of the case or by reason of the request for the surrender or return of a fugitive offender not being made in good faith or in the interests of justice or for any other reason it is unjust or inexpedient to surrender or return the fugitive offender.”
No other convention has such a provision. The European Convention’s Article 5 is precise. There was a reason for this. India was sponsoring terrorism in Sri Lanka then. M.K. Eelaventhan, general secretary of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Front, was a “distinguished guest” at the All India Congress Committee session in October 1983. The LTTE would issue boastful claims in Madras of guerrilla attacks in northern Sri Lanka, for example, on August 6, 1984. So did the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation on a bomb blast in Jaffna.
When, soon after the summit, Pritish Nandy of The Illustrated Weekly of India queried Rajiv Gandhi, he replied: “Well, it’s all a question of definition. When is terrorism a freedom movement? When does terrorism versus human rights come in? These are the sort of grey areas, you know.” He cited the instance of South Africa and said: “These sort of things will have to be clarified here, where there is no movement as yet to define today but there well might be tomorrow…. If we rush into it now, you know, it will pose a problem in SAARC later.” The result was a useless convention.
In Kashmir, the Indian state has practised state-sponsored terrorism from the very outset to this day—the renegade militants, the Ikhwans. It had been practised in Punjab and Assam. A detailed expose by Aunohita Mojumdar was published in The Statesman on March 9, 1996. Colonel K.P. Ramesh of the Rashtriya Rifles stated during the course of an interview that the Army had been using a group of surrendered militants over a period of time. The latter, he elaborated, were provided arms for their protection against Harkat-ul-Ansar and Hizbul Mujahideen and given reward money for providing information. The renegades were “on the payrolls of the Army”, but he tried to make light of the amounts given to them.
Aunohita Mojumdar’s finding was that these “counter-insurgents”, who are described as “friends” in official parlance, are not only “actively participating in operations carried out by the security agencies but also resorting to extortions, intimidation and excesses with the backing of the arms provided to them…. Three major groups were identified—Kukka Parrey’s Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon in north Kashmir, Al Fateh Force led by Aziz, and the Muslim Mujahideen in south Kashmir.”
Kukka Parrey had no inhibitions in bragging. In July 1995, he claimed to have “routed the Hizb in Kupwara, Anantnag, and Baramula districts”. On November 18, he said: “We have killed only Hizbul Mujahideen militants. Maybe five hundred. All of them in my area have been killed.… I have lost count of Hizbul Mujahideen killings.”
He arrived in Delhi on December 29, 1995, and enjoyed official protection, which made him inaccessible. He bared his plans. The Ikhwan had formed a political wing, the Awami League, which would decide on participation in the elections “at a proper time”.
It has been widely alleged that as well as running an extortion racket, the Ikhwan’s men also ran an illegal trade in timber and precious walnut wood right under the nose of the authorities.
The Times of India published a report of a press conference in Srinagar, on July 14, 1996, by Mohammed Maqbool Dar, Union Minister of State in the Home Ministry, in which he said that “the situation in Kashmir would not have improved to the extent it has but for the contribution of these counter-insurgent groups”. On August 11, 1996, Farooq Abdullah publicly thanked these Army-sponsored killers for helping him come to power in a rigged election. “The militants had given us the privilege to go before the people. Now I am proud of them.”
Herein lies the relevance of a well-documented report by Human Rights Watch-Asia, published in May 1996. It is titled “India’s Secret Army in Kashmir: New Patterns of Abuse Emerge in the Conflict”. For reasons not difficult to guess, very few copies could reach addresses in the country. It is based on research undertaken by a lawyer, James A. Goldston, who visited Kashmir in January 1996.
“During the Human Rights Watch-Asia visit to Kashmir in January 1996, we were informed that these groups have been armed by the government. On several occasions, Human Rights Watch-Asia observed members of these groups moving about openly carrying automatic weapons, in full view of security personnel, even though under the government’s rehabilitation programme, all surrendered militants are required to hand over their weapons.…
“A witness who was abducted by Ikhwan-ul Muslimoon forces told Human Rights Watch that he was detained at a house adjacent to an Army Rashtriya Rifles camp at Umarheer, Ahmed Nagar, Baspara, three kilometres from Soura Hospital. A Rashtriya Rifles bunker stands at the entrance to the house. The local Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon commander, Mohammad Ramzan, who had interrogated the witness, apparently lived in the house. Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon forces identified two women who were cooking in the house as Ramzan’s wife and sister-in-law.… Human rights activists have increasingly come under attack in Kashmir. Between April 1995 and April 1996, two human rights monitors were killed and one critically injured.”
The report says: “Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon forces have been patrolling the Soura Institute and the Bone and Joint Hospital since mid 1995. The local commander is Mohammad Ramzan, a former member of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) who had been arrested by the Rashtriya Rifles in 1995. After that Ramzan was seen at the hospital accompanied by other gunmen and by Army soldiers wearing Rashtriya Rifles uniforms. Ramzan wore a bullet-proof jacket under his pheran (long cloak), as did some others. He told hospital staff that he ‘wanted to bring discipline to the Institute’.
“Ikhwan-ul Muslimoon patrols are sometimes carried out jointly with other security forces. Their activities inside the hospitals, including assaults on staff and detentions of staff, patients and visitors, are carried out with the knowledge of the Border Security Force (BSF), which maintains bunkers at the entrances of the hospitals. A Jammu and Kashmir Police station is also located at the entrances of the hospitals. A Jammu and Kashmir police station is also located at the entrance to the Soura Institute. Ikhwan-ul Muslimoon forces enter the hospital on a regular basis and patrol in groups of twelve, armed with automatic weapons. They often carry walkie-talkies and speak into them in the course of their searches and patrols. They have threatened and harassed hospital staff and patients, looking for militants and have taken suspects away to ‘camps’. One such camp is said to be located near the hospital, at an Army base three kilometres away at Bachapora, Srinagar.”
In November 1995, Ikhwan-ul Muslimoon forces dragged a surgeon out of his office and kicked and punched him. “At 2:30 pm on 19 January 1996, the day that Human Rights Watch-Asia visited the Institute, Ikhwan forces were patrolling the main gate of Soura. Hospital employees stated that their presence was routine and that they usually stood only a few yards from the security bunker. Many hospital employees were unwilling to speak to Human Rights Watch-Asia out of fear. Doctors at the Bone and Joint Hospital complained that they were frequently searched by either armed paramilitary forces, while uniformed forces ringed the outside of the hospital, or by both paramilitary and uniformed Rashtriya Rifles forces.”
This technique was tried out by Latin American dictators. It is being used in Kashmir by New Delhi in the name of democracy. This pattern of security forces’ intrusion into hospitals was in evidence after July 8, 2016.
Incidentally, we had the demolition of the Babri Masjid, which L.K. Advani called “a political offence”; the Malegaon and the Mecca Masjid blasts—all of them evaded accountability before the law.
This is what a committed friend of India, Jean Dreze, wrote in The Hindu (March 29, 2002). “My initial purpose was to study the schooling situation, but it turned out to be difficult not to focus on people’s overwhelming concern: the endless zulm (repression) unleashed by the security forces. The security forces were rarely out of sight, even in remote villages. As far as the local population is concerned, Kashmir is ‘occupied’ by a foreign army. Everywhere I went, there were sobering tales of harassment at the hands of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces; curfews, searches, interrogations, killings of suspected militants, and accidental as well as intentional killings of the innocent civilians, to name a few complaints.”
Engineer Abdul Rasheed, MLA, said in an interview to Kashmir Life (November 20, 2011): “I was myself subjected to about 350 to 400 days of forced labour. Army treated us as slaves. We were supposed to wash clothes of Army, patrol their roads, construct bunkers, any damn thing. In this, fifty villagers suffered.… I was used as human shield at least on two occasions and I had a narrow escape. I was picked up and taken to the worst interrogation centre, Cargo, then to central jail, CIK Humhama and Rajbagh. I had to pay bribe not less than Rs.1 lakh by selling land and few cattle to get myself released.… I have seen hundreds of youth dying in front of me, getting handicapped, sisters turning widows.…
“The worst of all was that my own house was used as a temporary Army camp for about four months—the most barbaric thing which could ever happen—from November 1997 to February 1998.”
What has happened since July 8 is part of this long-established pattern. Contrast the national uproar over the Bhagalpur blindings to the indifference to the blindings in Kashmir. People are shot at in order to kill them and not protesters alone. Here is the sordid record.
July 9: Policemen barge into a hospital looking for protesters. “Two young men with pellet injuries were taken away by the police, a paramedic said” (Muzamil Jaleel, The Indian Express, July 11). At SMHS Hospital, Srinagar, Dr Sajjad Khandary had never seen so many people with serious ocular injuries in a day. “I strongly suggest that the use of pellet guns be stopped immediately because it is making young people blind.”
July 10: “In many cases bullets have been fired above the waist. The objective definitely seems to be to kill or maim the person for life” (Ashik Hussain, Hindustan Times, July 11).
July 10: “I can’t see a thing from my left eye. We were shouting slogans. The police came and fired pellets.” A doctor at the SMHS Hospital: “Everyone who came here had pellet wounds above the chest.” A “senior” police officer: “There is a view that when a protester is hit with a pellet in the eye, it becomes a deterrent. I don’t agree with it but that is what is happening” (Muzamil Jaleel, The Indian Express, July 12).
Note that the protesters posed no threat to life; they simply shouted slogans. Pellet guns were fired to kill or main them as “a deterrent”. This persists.
July 12: (Indian Express) Nirupama Subramanian wrote of parents taking their boys with pellet wounds to Amritsar “fearing their sons might be picked by the police if they went to local hospitals”. To “kids as young as 8 or 12 years old… defiance of the Indian state is now as natural as playing cricket”. To talk of Pakistan’s sponsorship is to utter a lie.
July 17: “A highly placed source in the Centre” told Vijaita Singh of The Hindu that the protests had to be stopped “now”; else “there would be provocation at the next level. The security forces fire to kill. It’s either white or black.”
July 17: Senior doctors at the SMHS Hospital “confirmed that when they were coming with the injured people to Srinagar hospitals, their ambulances/vehicles were stopped by the police and CRPF, who beat the injured”. Dr Qaiser Ahmed, principal of the Government Medical College, Srinagar, said that ambulances “were damaged by the CRPF and police” (Noor-ul-Qamrain, Sunday Guardian).
July 20: At this point, Sonia Gandhi proclaimed “a grave danger to the country. There can be no compromise on national security. Militants must be dealt with sternly” (The Hindu, July 21). The sternness that followed must have pleased her hugely.
July 21: Hindustan Times’ Ashiq Hussain reported: “Children continue to get maimed by wanton use of pellet guns by government forces in Kashmir. The latest victims are 8-year-old Asif Rashid and 13-year-old Mir Arafat, both of whom were hit by pellets fired by government forces to disperse protesters…. Hundreds of pellets penetrated Arafat’s body, from his face to the lower abdomen…. Doctors said Arafat has pellets in his heart, abdomen and intestines.”
July 21: “Police forcibly evicted volunteers from the premises of SMHS Hospital where they had been providing free food to the attendants of the injured for 13 days” (Yusuf Jameel, The Asian Age, July 22).
July 22: Azad Javaid of DNA reported: “Last Sunday (July 17) one patient was brought in from Pulwama and when we were trying to give CPR to the dying patient, a police officer in civilian clothes was updating his bosses through a mobile. This was right inside the operation theatre. A number of other doctors who spoke to DNA said that a meeting was called soon after police interference in which it was decided that the patients would not be named from now onwards.” Every day brought more reports of such outrages.
August 8: Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, who visited a Kashmiri girl at a hospital in New Delhi said: “She was blinded by pellets fired straight at her by security forces, deliberately aiming at her forehead when she was looking down from the window of her two-storyed house.” Even after two surgeries, she could not see (The Hindu, August 9).
August 8: Doctors who performed surgeries on those hit by pellets in SMHS and SKIMS hospitals in Srinagar told Peerzada Ashiq that three civilians died because they were shot from “a very, very close range with the intention to kill”. A doctor said of another patient: “More than 300 pellets were lodged inside his body, affecting all his organs. This only shows the gun was emptied by keeping the barrel close to the victim’s body.” This, like others, was a case of shooting with malice aforethought (The Hindu, August 9).
At the end of a whole month’s record of barbarism, approved by the Central and the State governments, the CPI(M)’s general secretary, Sitaram Yechury, was forced to remark on August 8: “Even Israel does not use pellet guns against Palestinians” (Hindustan Times, August 9). The analogy is closer than he is willing to admit. The forces and their mentors do not regard Kashmiris as fellow citizens but as a populace in occupied territory.
August 12: Nirmal Singh, Deputy Chief Minister, said that pellet guns were used “only when situations reach an extreme”. Mehbooba Mufti did not express any dissent.
August 18: “The CRPF in Srinagar fired pellets at an ambulance bringing a patient from Wussan. The driver, Ghulam Mohammed Sofi, despite being severely injured, drove the ambulance to the SMHS Hospital and dropped the patient before he himself was taken to hospital.” He had 200-300 pellet wounds (Basharat Masood and Mir Ehsan, The Indian Express, August 19).
August 19: “Officials asked district and sub-district officials to manage critical patients at rural health centres at night instead of taking the risk of moving them to Srinagar. The decision has been taken to avoid confrontation with the Army and CRPF patrolling roads and highways at night” (Mir Ehsan, The Indian Express, August 20).
This one single decision exposes the reality of the situation. The “officials” belonged to Mehbooba Mufti’s government, which has not the guts to ask Modi’s government to order its Army and its CRPF to do the decent thing—respect the sanctity of ambulances and hospitals and their personnel. No wonder that on August 20, they held a protest demonstration in Srinagar. This validates Engineer Rashid’s demand for the resignation of MLAs. He refused to join Omar Abdullah’s tamasha on August 20 in New Delhi, which is designed to secure a place for himself after the PDP’s collapse.
The CRPF said in an affidavit to the State High Court on August 18 that “in case this is withdrawn from options available with the CRPF, CRPF personnel would have no recourse in extreme circumstances but to open fire with rifles, which may cause more fatalities”.
The standard operating procedures require that a weapon be used below the waist. “But the situation on the streets during an ongoing law and order incident is dynamic and mobile. Sometimes it is difficult to go in for precise aimed fire at a moving, bending and running target.”
The record belies this plea. The guns were fired above the waist and at unarmed young protesters with the intention of killing and maiming them. What of the attacks on the ambulances? Was any of this seen in the Haryana or Gujarat agitations? The CRPF admitted it had fired around 3,000 pellet cartridges, each containing 450 metallic balls, between July 9 and August 11. On the same day (August 18), Dr Manzoor Ahmed, head of the department, Orthopaedics, Bone and Joint Hospital, said that the ambulance driver, Sofi (32), “was fired at close range and had taken hundreds of pellets” (The Indian Express, August 19).
Use of firearms
The United Kingdom faced the well-organised Sinn Fein armed with deadly weapons in Northern Ireland. Preventive detention (internment) started on August 9, 1971, and ended on December 5, 1975. The law is clear. The instructions issued to the Civic Guards on the use of firearms, dated November 24, 1932, were judicially approved: “Setting aside for the moment the ordinary dictates of humanity, it is, for the reasons mentioned, in the highest degree essential, that when the Garda are compelled to resort to force in dealing with the public, their actions should be governed resolutely by prudence, foresight and absolute discretion.…There is far too great a readiness to resort to the use of firearms in dealing with disorderly persons…. A gun should not be discharged until there is no other practical course open but to employ it with fatal effect….
“A continuance of the practice of firing shots in the air which has recently been so much in evidence must inevitably lead to the gravest consequences…. Generally, it may be laid down that there are very few occasions in the life of a police officer which justify the introduction of firearms and it is again to be emphasised that they are only to be used as a last resort and then only in the gravest circumstances.…
“The safer course for a member of a police force is to avail of every means of defence whatsoever before making effective use of firearms…. But it is an invariable rule that the degree of force to be used must always be moderated and proportioned to the circumstances of the case, and the end to be attained. Hence it is that arms—now at such a state of perfection that they cannot be employed without grave danger to life and limb even of distant and innocent persons—must be used with the greatest of care, and the greatest pains must be exercised to avoid the infliction of fatal injuries.… A gun should never be used, or used with any specified degree of force if there is any doubt as to the necessity.”
Firearms can be used only with the utmost care and only if life and limbs are in danger.
Kashmiri memories go back a long way, as Governor B.K. Nehru noted during the 1983 election. “Shoals of Congress politicians descended on the Valley from outside. They did more harm than good; first because the Kashmiris resented ‘foreign’ interference and second because they were ignorant of Kashmiri sentiments. A favourite theme of their speeches was praise for Akbar the Great and his secularism. In Kashmir the name Akbar is hated as that of an arch-imperialist. He was the first outsider who destroyed in 1589 the independence of Kashmir. Nobody had succeeded in doing so before then” (Nice Guys Finish Second, page 610).
In June 1970, at the State People’s Convention, Sheikh Abdullah said that the freedom movement “began with the conquest of Kashmir by the Moghul armies”. Akbar’s armies marched into Kashmir on June 28, 1586. Mughal rule lasted for 166 years until 1752, when a brutal reign of the Afghans began. In 1814, Maharaja Ranjit Singh invaded Kashmir. The Lahore Darbar was betrayed by its Dogra feudatory, Gulab Singh of Jammu, who was in league with the British. He acquired Kashmir by the infamous Treaty of Amritsar, signed on March 16, 1846, for Rs.75 lakh. Gandhi aptly called it “a deed of sale” during his stay in Srinagar from August 1 to 3, 1947. He supposed “it would be dead on the 15th August”.
Kashmiris cannot forget their history or the record of India’s broken pledges. The rapacity of India and Pakistan leaves them helpless. More so, the state terror let lose by the Indian state on Kashmir. I forbear from citing here the numerous reports of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. But read paragraph 334 from the Report of the Special Rapporteur, Nigel S. Rodley, to the U.N. Human Rights Commission on January 12, 1995. “The Special Rapporteur further transmitted information according to which the practice of custodial rape by members of the police and security forces occurred with frequency. In areas of internal conflict and disturbances, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, the practice was reported to be systematic. In such a context, the impetus for custodial rape appeared to stem from political and strategic considerations, whereby pacification was sought through the intimidation and degradation of the target population. Rape was also allegedly used as a means of collective punishment, as when the mass detention of males in a community was preceded by multiple rapes of their spouses during house-to-house searches.”
It is preposterous to suggest that Jammu and Kashmir’s status is an internal matter. As late as February 25, 1955, Nehru was asked by Lakshmi Charan in the Lok Sabha: “In view of the fact that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly has ratified the accession of the State to India, what will be the terms of discussion on Kashmir with the Pakistani Prime Minister?” Nehru replied: “A question like this cannot be solved unilaterally.”
As late as on August 20, 2015, the Special Assistant to the U.S. President, Peter R. Lavoy, said: “Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory.” There was no change in the U.S. position, he said. “We do acknowledge that this is a contested territory; a contested border between India and Pakistan” (The Asian Age, August 21, 2015). U.N. maps carry the legend “The Final status of Jammu & Kashmir has not yet been agreed upon by the parties.”
The Kashmiris’ right to demand a plebiscite peacefully is incontestable. It is another matter that India cannot concede the demand. Must then the cycle of resistance and repression go on? The unrest has spread beyond the Valley to Pir Panjal, the Chenab Valley and Kargil. Stones are weapons which an unarmed people use. Young men, known as “Dilawar”, would pelt stones at the patrolling Mughal soldiers. The hero of the 1931 uprising, Abdul Qadeer Khan, urged Kashmiris to fight the Dogra bullets with stones. But Syed Ali Shah Geelani told his supporters that nobody should resort to stone-pelting (The Indian Express, March 12, 2010). In the 2010 unrest, stone pelting acquired a vogue few had imagined. It became a fashion to decry the stone pelters either as Pakistanis or paid performers. Photographs of middle-aged women, schoolboys and young men braving bullets to fling stones at the CRPF and the police tell us the truth.
The way out
The way out was shown by a sensible soldier and by no politician. The Northern Army Commander Lt Gen. D.S. Hoodo said in Srinagar, on August 19: “We all have to sit down, put our heads together and see if we can find an end to this. I know it is not easy. The situation is difficult. Everybody who is in any way involved in J&K needs to introspect.” He added that no one person or one organisation” could solve the crisis. “This is not a political statement of facts because everybody is involved, whether it is security forces, separatists, governments, student leaders; so my appeal is to everyone. I think we need to find some way forward in this.”
Note his specific reference to “separatists”, in contrast to the term “stakeholders” used by the unionists. The soldier is honest; they are not. It is the separatists who represent the mainstream, not the unionists Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yaseen Malik, united in the crisis. Talk to them. They are all against the use of stones. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, on July 10: “People feel the Government of India is just not ready to engage or even acknowledge the sentiments of Kashmir.” On the other hand, “there is no scope for peaceful resistance”. The three remain under house arrest. This is because the Indian state regards any questioning of the Union as treason, to be quelled by brute force even though constitutionally and morally such questioning is permissible. A journalist noted how tactfully the Army and the BSF had tackled demonstrators without bloodshed (Pervez Majeed, DNA, August 11).
It will not do to say that Kashmir is a closed chapter. It is very much an open question. France had installed a stooge regime in the Saar in its dispute over it with Germany. The Council of Europe intervened. Its Consultative Assembly’s Committee on General Affairs was assigned the task. Its Rapporteur, M. Van Der Goes Van Nater’s report of March 15, 1954, is a classic. France dissolved the Saar Democratic Party. The report said: “Although it is not unusual that a Constitution should proclaim its own inviolability—it is in the interest of democracy itself that such a principle should always be applied with great prudence in cases where, as with the Saar, it is a question of a provisional settlement destined to be replaced later by a final statute.… The provisions defining public liberty in the Saar should be interpreted in such a manner as to allow due expression of the opinion that the present provisional Constitution should later be replaced by a definitive Constitution based on other principles.”
The referenda in Quebec, apart from Scotland, provide a good instruction. Scotland’s demand for secession from the U.K. is not dubbed treason. In 1707, the Scottish and English Parliaments each passed an Act of Union approving the terms of a Treaty of Union negotiated by both governments. The Act of 1707 embodied a compact, as Article 370 does. “The two Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall… for ever after be united into One kingdom by the name of Great Britain.” A large measure was granted to Scotland by the Scotland Act, 1998. Yet, on October 15, 2012, 400 years after 1707, the governments of the U.K. and Scotland signed an Agreement at Edinburgh “on a referendum on independence for Scotland” running into 29 clauses. Advocates of independence lost. After Brexit, the demand is likely to be revived. Scots are not called traitors by the English.
History teaches by analogy, not identity. No two cases are alike. The Kashmir problem cannot be solved by brute force. The Indian state cannot stifle the demand for azadi by brute force. Kashmiris cannot secede from India by deploying armed force. A compromise is called for. What the Canadian Supreme Court said on August 20, 1998, on Quebec’s demand applies also to Kashmir. “Negotiations would be necessary to address the interests of the federal government, of Quebec and the other provinces, and other participants, as well as the rights of all Canadians both within and outside Quebec.” In any negotiations on Kashmir’s future, Pakistan will be a necessary party.
Meanwhile, the grim situation calls for immediate alleviation. The elements of an ad hoc accord are 1. Release of all the Hurriyat leaders. It is they alone who can persuade the leaderless young to desist. Neither Omar nor Mehbooba Mufti can. They are both irrelevant. They belong to New Delhi. 2. Grant of the fundamental right to assemble peacefully without arms in meetings or processions.
As Lord Scarman said in his Report on the Red Lion Square disturbances in 1974: “The police are not concerned with the politics of a demonstration: if they were, we should be a police state. Their duty is to maintain public order.” 3. Total halt to stone pelting, and compensations to the persons injured. 4. Total halt to nocturnal searches by the security forces, crackdowns and arrests. 5. Removal of bunkers from civilian areas. 6. Return of lands in the possession of the Army and the CRPF. 7. Appointment of an ombudsman to oversee and enforce the accord.
Kashmir has a highly respected Governor in N.N. Vohra. He should be authorised to take soundings from individual leaders and then convene a Round Table Conference to discuss and finalise the terms.
Never before has Kashmir seen such an upheaval since Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest on August 9, 1953. Does it not call for a review of the situation by the three leaders? Whether to contest the elections or not is a tricky question. But is the demand for azadi weakened or strengthened by the separatists uniting to improve the lot of civil society, which has suffered a lot? They can encourage the young, under their guidance, to involve themselves in municipal issues, in the problems of traders, in the universities, and so on, while maintaining their political stand. The “All or Nothing” stand is unique to the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. It must be shed for the good of the people.
In 1953, Madhu Limaye and Sadiq Ali went to Kashmir after Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest and submitted a very comprehensive report. Do not expect New Delhi to send a credible delegation. Leading public figures—politicians, civil libertarians and the rest—should go to Kashmir, meet the people there and report to the nation.