CECIL VICTOR. Editorial. IV.X.XVII
By Cecil Victor
The process of internecine warfare among terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir appears to be a boon in terms of “actionable intelligence” for security forces; but one must remember that vital lesson from the Khalistan uprising in Punjab that “an enemy’s enemy is a friend” could create another Bhindranwale.
Since the killing of the charismatic local Hizbul Mujideen commander Burhan Wani, Pakistan has been losing its fancied puppets at a rate of one a month because someone from within the terrorist groups—Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaishe Muhammad, the Al Badr and the new Ansar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind led by Zakir Musa – is believed to be supplying information to security forces about the presence and location of inconvenient rivals within the terrorist camps.
The insurgency situation is changing at a rapid rate and known terrorists are being quickly replaced by school dropouts and targets are shifting from street violence to strategic assets like the Banihal tunnel (the alternate route to Jammu and Kashmir); police personnel – the generators of local intelligence — and military and paramilitary men on leave to demoralize the security forces.
The bounty for the security forces in the form of actionable intelligence is the fallout from the creation of the Ansar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind by Zakir Musa. “Acting on specific intelligence inputs” appears to be the panagric for gratis information about rivals that began flowing out of Zakir Musa’s rise in the terrorist pantheon. Musa himself has publically threatened to expose his rivals in the wake of the spate of National Investigating Agency raids on sources of terrorist funding. What demonitisation failed to do, the NIA raids appear to be accomplishing.
Pakistan’s attempt at creating a festering sore of unease and loss of morale after the series of attacks on security personnel in Uri, Pathankot and Gurdaspur boomeranged in the shape of the of surgical strikes by Indian Army commandos. The “tell all” reports in newspapers and television networks marked the anniversary of the strikes in late September. The surgical strikes underscored the point that India knows enough of what is going on in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the adjoining Pakistani territory across the international border to be able to launch such attacks with precision and without loss of personnel. Pakistan, understanding fully the implications of the retaliation for the Uri attack has been seen scrambling for cover even while denying that the surgical strikes ever took place!
In May this year Mr A.S Dulat the former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) – India’s external Intelligence agency – had said: “Yes, the situation is turning worse. Is it worse than 1990? My answer is Yes and No. It is worse in terms of atmospherics. Because of alienation and the anger of youth, young Kashmiri minds have gone out of control…Today the situation is scarier. When stonepelting is done by youth and girls it is abnormal. Today they are proud to be stonepelters. They are no longer hiding. Schoolgirls and women are coming out to throw stones. The Kashmir situation has never been so bad.” On radicalization, Mr Dulat had this to say: “Radicalism increasing in Kashmir is well known. It is also known that radical Islam is affecting more the youth than the older generation of Kashmiris who still respect Kashmiriyat and Sufi-ism… But among the youth radical Islam is spreading because of continuous conflict in their society.”
This is what appears to be rearing its head in the fact that those involved in the attack on the Shastra Suraksha Bal (SSB) picket guarding the Banihal tunnel were dropout students.
The figures of casualties among terrorists tell their own story. There has been a sudden spurt in encounter deaths of top terrorist commanders operating out of PoK as well as inside Jammu and Kashmir. Ten since January (2), March (1). Since the Dulat interview seven top terrorist commanders have been gunned down (this happened in spite of local people trying to help them escape by stonepelting). All of them were targets of “specific intelligence inputs”.
This is all to the good because it raises the morale of the nation and, more specifically, the security forces that are being targeted by the terrorists. A combination of a cutoff of funds from Pakistan and elsewhere to finance terror and the very visible and deliberate neutralization of top terrorist commanders will result in a decapitation and demoralization of terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir. Most of the commanders killed so far belong to the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the rest from the Hizbul Mujahideen.
A leaderless lot of jihadi terrorists will begin to spawn their own branded leaders as happened in the case of the Khalistani movement in Punjab. Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale emerged from out of the crowd of Khalistanis because of the political patronage he enjoyed under the ruling class.
We all know what happened when the government of the day decided to send the army into the Golden Temple to get him during Operation Blue Star. It stoked a rebellion among a small section of troops which was fortunately quickly neutralized. Finally, it was the genius of the late lamented K.P.S. Gill that managed to break the back of the Khalistan movement in an operation inside the Golden Temple some years later.
In Jammu and Kashmir out of gratitude for the actionable Intelligence about other terrorist commanders the government may end up overlooking a greater danger.
In a scenario of a “last terrorist standing” we may end up in recreating a facsimile of Bhindranwale.
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