Jammu and Kashmir

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  • Neeraj Kapoor asked: How the insurgency in Kashmir is different from the Maoist insurgency or the insurgency in Assam?

    G.K. Pillai replies: The insurgency in Kashmir is different primarily because it arises from differing perceptions with Pakistan and the people of Kashmir valley on the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union at the time of independence and the special status accorded to the State through Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The insurgency in J&K has been actively assisted by the Government of Pakistan and the two countries have fought in 1948, 1965, 1971, and in the Kargil sector on this issue. It has been the official policy of the Government of Pakistan to bleed India through a thousand cuts in order to weaken its resolve that J&K is an integral part of India. Pakistan has, therefore, not lost any opportunity to exploit any discontent in J&K. There are reportedly 22 camps in Pak occupied Kashmir where militants are being trained to be infiltrated across the LOC to attack security forces and vital installations in the State.

    The Maoist insurgency originates from apparent discontent over agrarian reforms and exploitation of the local population, especially tribals; and now has the stated objective of the overthrow of the Indian State and parliamentary democracy. It has got its support by exploiting local grievances against the local government to organise an armed liberation struggle against the Indian State. It draws inspiration from Mao Tse Tung’s Communist movement. It is not limited to any one state since the Maoists do not believe in parliamentary democracy and is currently spread in parts of at least 9 States in India. Maoists have been reported to have got training from the LTTE and are actively seeking cooperation from insurgent groups in the North East, especially the PLA.

    In Assam, there are a number of insurgent groups which are active. United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Paresh Barua faction seeks a sovereign Assam and has its origins in the fear that continuous migration of persons from erstwhile East Pakistan and now Bangladesh will alter the demographic character of the State of Assam to the detriment of its indigenous people. Who are the indigenous people of Assam still remains to be resolved. The BODO insurgent movement also called for an independent BODO State as these tribals felt that they would be discriminated if they stayed within the State of Assam. Then there are a number of other militant groups based on tribal identity and geographical contiguity who have taken up arms to fight for their tribal identity which they feel is not getting due recognition and support within the State of Assam. Both the ULFA and BODO groups have received training and arms from Pakistan.

    Beyond the Indus Water Treaty: A Perspective on Kashmir’s “Power” Woes

    At the core of the Kashmiri discourse on the shortage of power is the distribution of water resources that was agreed to between India and Pakistan through the instrumentality of the Indus Water Treaty.

    February 02, 2012

    India’s Internal Security: The Year That Was, The Year That May Be

    India’s internal security situation in 2011 was relatively better than in previous years. To ensure that 2012 also turns out to be a quiet and secure year, New Delhi not only has to consolidate the gains made in 2011 but also undertake new initiatives to address these gaps.

    December 13, 2011

    ‘Heart as a Weapon’: A Fresh Approach to the Concept of Hearts and Minds

    The recent 'heart as a weapon' initiative in Jammu and Kashmir has been received favourably both by critics of security forces and by the state government.

    November 16, 2011

    Counterinsurgency and "Op Sadhbhavana" in Jammu and Kashmir

    Counterinsurgency and "Op Sadhbhavana" in Jammu and Kashmir

    Critiques of the Indian Army's counterinsurgency practice have overlooked a critical aspect of “organisational innovation and operational learning” formalised as Op Sadhbhavana. These initiatives have had a limited but salutary impact in transforming the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir.

    Sree Kumaran asked: Why J&K cannot be treated as any other State in the country by withdrawig the special status amending the Constitution?

    Arpita Anant replies: There is no denying that historically, the state has a claim to a special status. At the time of Independence, the National Conference, which was the torchbearer for integration of the State of Jammu and Kashmir with India, also advocated for a special status i.e. autonomy within the Union of India. Given the circumstances at that juncture, a special status was granted vide Article 370 of the Constitution. It was then elaborated on by the Constitution Application to Jammu and Kashmir Order 1950; and further reiterated in the Delhi Agreement of 1952.

    However, due to a combination of domestic and international developments, as Sheikh Abdullah moved away from a commitment to integration with special status, Nehru moved away from the commitment to autonomy. What followed were several years of a perceived ‘erosion of autonomy’. When the National Conference contested elections in 1996, it included the restoration of autonomy in its manifesto. More recently, the People’s Democratic Party too has articulated its own version of autonomy as part of its formula of self-rule.

    Given the history, and the fact that the idea of autonomy is central to the political discourse of two important, and what are called ‘mainstream parties’ of the state, it will not be possible to simply amend the Constitution to withdraw the special status at this juncture.

    Kumar Gaurav Sonkar asked: Why China is issuing "staple visa" to the citizens of Arunachal Pradesh as well as of Kashmir?

    Prashant Kr Singh replies: Recently, China has appeared to be revising its three-decade old policy of formal neutrality on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. In 1960s and 70s, China had supported Kashmir’s so-called right to self-determination and armed-rebellion against India. It had even supported Pakistan in its war against India in 1965 and 1971, though this support never crossed verbal limits. However in 1980s, it changed its policy due to combination of factors. It declared that the Kashmir issue was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and that they should settle it through peaceful diplomatic methods. Since then, China had followed this policy of formal neutrality on the Kashmir issue, though it continued to intensify its military (including nuclear) cooperation with Pakistan during this period. But now it seems that China wants to revise its policy on Kashmir. In the last few years, China has started issuing loose leaf stapled visas instead of properly stamped ones to the Indian citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.(J&K) Last year, it had denied visa to a General from the Indian Army who was commanding in that region. This implies that China does not recognise India’s sovereignty over J&K. However, China has not made any formal statement to this effect. It has simply conveyed that giving properly stamped visas to the Indian citizens of J&K would amount to Chinese recognition to India's authority on Laddakh which China claims as its own. But China is very subtly asserting disputed status of Kashmir by such actions. It has been observed that in international politics, when a state does not recognize another state’s authority over some territory, it does not issue a proper visa to the residents of that territory. By giving stapled visa to those residents, it registers its protest over the existing status of their citizenship. China has followed the same practice in case of Indian citizens of Arunachal Pradesh which it considers part of its territory.

    Arnab Dasgupta asked: Why Pakistan does not face the same situation in the POK as India does in J&K? Is it only religion that protects it or something else?

    Priyanka Singh replies: First of all, it is incorrect to assume there are no problems for Pakistan in the PoK (AJK and Gilgit Baltistan). There is simmering unrest in the PoK and a great deal of discontent amongst the people against Pakistan. There are nationalist groups who are demanding independence from Pakistan’s control over the region. Due to Pakistan’s deliberate strategy of not allowing these groups to flourish and denying them the right of expression, the leaders of such groups are forced to flee their homeland and operate from outside PoK, majority of them being based in Europe and US. The region has been kept under closed wraps largely beyond the reach of media attention. After the earthquake of 2005 when international relief poured in PoK, the ground realities including the existence of militant training camps were taken note of by the outside world.

    However, the nature of problems which India faces in J&K is quite different from that of PoK. The biggest of all is the cross border militancy in J&K unleashed by Pakistan for more than two decades. Pakistan’s role in promoting terrorism against India lies at the core of the problems which the GOI faces in J&K. Popular sentiments resulting from governance issues have at times been tapped and manipulated by Pakistan to sponsor terrorism in J&K.

    Ethnicity and culture rather than religion bears upon the state of affairs in PoK. The demographic composition of the region has been tampered by Pakistan to reduce the majority of shias into a minority. Sectarian clashes between the people have led to violent incidents thus serving Pakistan’s purpose behind divisive politics. This has led to further disaffection in PoK gravely hurting the sensitivities of people on culture and origin.

    India provides fair democratic processes in J&K which allow dissidence, debate and discourse. In the absence of basic rights and liberties, the possibility of street protests and demonstrations in PoK are far fetched. The political processes in PoK are farce- designed merely to strengthen Pakistan’s unlawful control on the region.

    Kashmir: The Problem, and the Way Forward

    There is an overwhelming sense of déjà vu in Kashmir today. This could have been deemed tiresome but for the grave implications it has for us as a nation, and as a people. We are now used to long cycles of violence interspersed by political ennui or tokenism and the ubiquitous ‘economic package’ which only serves to open up newer avenues for corruption in a state orphaned by history and politics for over six decades.

    March 2011

    Empowering the Kashmiris

    Insurgencies as well as popular unrests are generally rooted in political, social and economic deprivations, which in turn lead to the alienation and estrangement of a community. A popular sentiment seeking the empowerment of Muslim Kashmiris has been in existence for the past five centuries. History is replete with instances of the political deprivation and poverty of Kashmiri people during periods of their subjugation by the Mughals, the Pathans, the Sikhs and later the Dogras. Kashmiri alienation took firm roots during the Dogra rule (1846–1947).

    March 2011