Mainstream, VOL LIV No 39 New Delhi September 17, 2016
India’s Modi must visit Kashmir to ease tension in the Valley
Sunday 18 September 2016
by Kadayam Subramanian
India’s intelligence agencies have played a controversial role in reporting on the nature of the current unrest in Kashmir. By blaming Pakistan for instigating trouble in the Valley, they have failed to address the genuine problems of the people on the ground, which the younger generation of Kashmiris are agitated about including the negative role of the security forces. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should reject spurious analysis which encourages confron-tation with Pakistan, visit the Valley urgently and engage the people in concrete and constructive ways about their genuine problems. Failure to do so will only drive the Kashmiri people into irretrievable alienation from the rest of India further fuelling separatist tendencies.
Over the years, India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) has played a crucial role in sustaining the Central Government’s control over Kashmir affairs.
The first comprehensive official analysis of the Kashmir problem was produced by B.N. Mullik, Director of the IB (1950-64) under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1972). A more recent and critical assessment was provided by Dulat (2015).
However, despite such critical analyses, things kept falling apart, the Centre often lost hold and anarchy was loosed upon the Kashmir Valley. The restive region is on the boil again and incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to divert public attention from the current unrest there by highlighting human rights violations in the conflict-torn Balochistan province in Pakistan and Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
What led to the indigenous mass upsurge in Kashmir Valley was the recent killing of a young Kashmiri militant, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, 22, by the security forces on July 8. Instead of examining the causes that led to the new phase of violence, Modi, based on the inputs given by intelligence agencies, is blaming Pakistan for the violence in the Valley.
Police response to the disturbances was appalling. After public outrage and wide media coverage, the Central Armed Paramilitary Force (CAPF) finally confessed to having used 1.3 million pellets in 32 days from the day Wani was killed.
Till August 18, 65 people were killed, several hundred were blinded and many seriously injured by pellet guns.
Pakistan seized the opportunity to discredit India by showing that the violence is Kashmir is a domestic issue and not one created by Islamabad.
Cornered, Modi counter-attacked by high-lighting Pakistan’s abysmal human rights record in Balochistan province while ignoring India’s human rights abuses in Kashmir.
Though Modi paid lip-service to those killed and injured in Kashmir, he never bothered to visit the Valley to offer sympathies or punish the guilty. His cold response to the incidents was reminiscent of his passive role during the 2002 carnage in Gujarat during his tenure as the State’s Chief Minister.
But how come Modi grabbed the Balochistan stick to beat Pakistan to cover up his own vulnerability in the Kashmir Valley?
The answer is Ajit Kumar Doval, the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the Prime Minister and former Director of the IB.
In a lecture delivered in 2014, Doval, while referring to hostile bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, stressed the need for India to exploit Pakistan’s ‘vulnerabilities’ and render unaffordable any Pakistani effort to mount terrorist attacks on India.
He used the famous phrase ‘you may do one Mumbai; you may lose Balochistan’, implying that any Pakistani terrorist attempt on India like the one on Mumbai in 2008 would be met with a counterattack by India which may ultimately lead to the secession of Balochistan from Pakistan like Bangladesh in 1971.
Doval argued that Pakistan should be allowed to ‘bleed with the Taliban’ and prevented from using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Further, he said, India should use high technology to carry out “intelligence-driven covert ope-rations” in Balochistan.
This is precisely what the then Army Chief, V.K. Singh (now a Minister in the Modi Cabinet), did in 2015 when his Technical Services Division undertook several “intelligence-driven covert operations” in Balochistan.
The Balochistan Liberation Organisation (BLO) was allowed to open its office in New Delhi in 2009. Indian officials felt that both Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) could be easily targeted.
Indian intelligence agencies had worked on these possibilities previously as well. A section of the ruling BJP was aware of this. Pakistan too had come to know of this as revealed by the then Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, at Sharm-el-Sharif.
In 2016, Kulbhushan Yadav, a suspected agent of the India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), was arrested by Pakistani authorities at the Iran-Balochistan border.
Modi’s reference to human rights violations in Balochistan and PoK in his Independence Day address on August 15 is thus quite under-standable.
Till the establishment of the institution of the NSA in the 1990s, the Director of the Intelligence Bureau (DIB), B.N. Mullik, was the virtual NSA for Nehru. He was Nehru’s confidant from 1950 to 1964.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi set up R&AW for external intelligence collection in 1968. The agency was directed by Ramji Nath Kao, a Kashmiri close to Indira.
Mullik, in his autobiographical work, My Years with Nehru (1971-72), provided insights into his intelligence operations during his years with Nehru.
One of his murky operations in 1953 was the arrest and detention, on charges of sedition of the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah. Although the Kashmiri leader remained in custody for over 20 years, the charges of sedition against him were never proved as admitted by Mullik himself in his work.
The unfair treatment meted out to Abdullah was perhaps a factor for the alienation of the Kashmiri people that, in a way, contributed to the emergence of insurgency in the Kashmir Valley in the late 1980s.
Dulat (2015) thinks that if Abdullah had not been so badly treated, the separatist mind-set would not have taken roots in Kashmiri politics and the question of retention or deletion of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, protecting the autonomy of Kashmir, would not have become controversial.
The allegation that the current upsurge in Kashmir was instigated by Pakistan is rejected by Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Abdullah thinks that the current struggle in Kashmir is indigenous in origin. According to him, Modi’s advocacy of ‘development’ as a solution is not enough.
Two of the five NSAs since 1999 have been senior policemen including the present one. Their mind-set is conditioned by the national security perspective and unaffected by human security considerations.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD), two Pakistan-based Islamist militant organisations, are reportedly inclined to send 2000 fighters to the Kashmir Valley and challenge the might of the Indian state. There is also threat from agencies that recruit Kashmiri youth for the Islamic State. This would lead to further militarisation of the region.
The Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) would be pleased if a Palestinian-Intifada type movement develops in Kashmir. Differences between Islamabad and Kabul, the US and Pakistan’s concern over Afghanistan’s future and India’s efforts to raise the human rights abuses in Balochistan are likely to raise tension in South Asia.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has warned that India’s refusal to recognise the gravity of the situation in Kashmir would lead to the “unimaginable risk of alienating the people of Kashmir in an irrevocable and irreparable manner”.
India seems reluctant to note that while Kashmir is an international bilateral dispute between two countries recognised by the United Nations, Balochistan (population 7 million) is a local problem in Pakistan.
(Courtesy: Asia Times)
Dulat, Amarjit Singh, 2015, Vajpayee: the Kashmir Years (1998-2004), Harper Collins, New Delhi.
Mullik, B.N., 1972, My Years with Nehru, Volume II on ‘Kashmir’, Allied Publishers, New Delhi.
Noorani, 2015, ‘Doval Doctrine’, 2016, November 13, Frontline, New Delhi.
Subramanian, K.S., 2007, Political Violence and the Police in India, Sage 2007.
Siddiqa, Ayesha, 2016, ‘Sorry, India, this is not the way to help the people of Balochistan’, the wire.in.
The writer was the Director of the Research and Policy Division of the Union Home Ministry in India. He was Director General of Police in North-East India. He is the author of Political Violence and the Police in India, Sage, 2007 and State Policy and Conflicts in North-East India, Routledge, 2016.