Kashmir: No improvement possible
by Sandhya Jain on 15 Aug 2013 9 Comments

Each time an election takes place in Pakistan or a new leader comes to power in that country, and each time a few weeks pass without a major incident in Jammu and Kashmir, the professional peaceniks start clamouring for a ‘solution’ to the problem of the State, beginning with removal or mitigation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). It takes only a single bullet or stone to shatter the false illusions and prove the old adage – one swallow does not make spring.


On June 24, 2013, the day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was to visit the State, suspected Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists killed eight jawans and injured 13 persons in three attacks in Srinagar, to coincide with the visit of US secretary of state John Kerry. This naturally heightened fears about the safety of the Amarnath Yatra. Previously, on June 22, two police constables died in an ambush at Hari Singh High Street.


After Pakistan’s Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif called for peace between the two nations, Indian soldier, Lance Naik Bachan Singh, was shot dead in firing along the line of control on June 7, in the Poonch sector. So far, five jawans have lost their lives since the peace call.


Meanwhile, the Punjab government headed by Nawaz Sharif’s party has provided a grant-in-aid of Rs 61 million to the Jamaat ud Dawa for setting up a ‘knowledge park’. The JuD, as is well known, is the parent body of the Lashkar e Toiba that executed the November 2008 terror strike on Mumbai.


It is impossible to say how many incidents will take place, and how many bodies will be counted by the time this appears in print. Suffice to say that these incidents should legitimately comprise the paradigm within which we assess the ground reality in Pakistan and our own Jammu and Kashmir. An entrenched terrorism and maladroit handling of both by Jawaharlal Nehru and his successors has made it impossible not to link the two; nevertheless, it bears stating that J&K is an integral part of India owing to the accession by the last Maharaja, Hari Singh, in 1947.


Sadly, the State leadership itself – and not just the separatists and terrorists – maintains that Pakistan is a stakeholder in the State. Yet the logical corollary that by a similar yardstick J&K and India could be stakeholders in Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan is never mentioned!


Currently, what is compounding the problem in J&K is the illegal Surrender & Rehabilitation Policy initiated by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, with the benign complicity of the Union Government, wherein terrorists from Pakistan are entering the State via Nepal. New Delhi does not seem to care that the ISI may be pushing hardcore terrorists into this sensitive State to set up sleeper cells for a major conflagration some day. Prof Bhim Singh of the Panther’s Party is the sole leader from the State to have objected to this policy.


On March 20, 2013, the Delhi Police arrested Pakistani national and Hizbul Mujahideen operative Liaquat Ali Shah after he crossed over from Nepal along with his family. This raised a howl of protest from Omar Abdullah, who claimed that the man was returning under his Government’s Surrender & Rehabilitation Policy for militants.


Thus, the nation was stunned to know that the Government of India was allowing the Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister to conduct a very controversial Rehabilitation Policy (Cabinet Decision No.32/3 dated January 31, 2004, Government Order No. Home-55/H of 2004), the aim of which is to facilitate “those terrorists who undergo a change of heart and eschew the path of violence and who also accept the integrity of India and Indian Constitution” to join the mainstream.


The policy is applicable ONLY to terrorists amongst residents of Jammu and Kashmir who surrender with weapons or even without weapons. Nowhere does the policy include terrorists who crossed over to Pakistan for arms training, took Pakistani citizenship, married and raised families. Yet it is these Pakistani passport-holders that the J&K administration is quietly sneaking back and resettling in the sensitive State where Pakistan continues to sponsor terrorism and make territorial claims.


The policy explicitly designates places/authorities for surrender: Operational Units of Army/ BSF/ CRPF/ ITBP throughout the State (and not throughout the nation, or borders with other States or countries); Zonal Inspectors General of Police; Range Dy. Inspectors General of Police; District Magistrates and District Superintendents of Police or Superintendent of Police, CID.


If found eligible for rehabilitation, the incentive package includes immediate grant of Rs. 1.50 lakh as a bank fixed deposit to be drawn on completion of three year period and subject to good behaviour, and Rs. 2000/- as monthly stipend for three years after surrender.


Omar Abdullah’s anger at Shah’s arrest revealed that instead of bringing militants inside the State to give up arms and rejoin the mainstream, the National Conference-Congress coalition regime was quietly permitting the infiltration of Pakistani militants into the State under the cover of the rehabilitation policy.


Over 4000 persons with Pakistani passports have already entered India via Nepal using I-cards improperly issued to them by the J&K Government on Nepali soil; 243 arrived in just three months of 2013.


Legally, the J&K Government has no power to grant Indian citizenship to anyone, let alone former militants. Under Article 9 of the Constitution of India, “No person shall be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 5, or be deemed to be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 6 or Article 8, if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State.”


It is obvious that the militants being brought in to settle in J&K remain Pakistani citizens; they need to reside in India for a minimum of five years before they can apply for naturalization as Indian citizens. It is unclear how former militants can be found eligible for Indian citizenship after any amount of time. So why has the Centre allowed this import of known militants? Liaquat Ali Shah had crossed over to Pakistan 23 years ago and is now a Pakistani citizen.


The formula adopted is that when a militant with family lands at Kathmandu Airport – after sounding out some unknown authority in Srinagar – he is met by an official of the J&K Government and provided with I-cards that permit them to enter the border as J&K residents. It is totally illegal. Yet the Union Home Minister preferred to pander to Abdullah instead of upholding the law.

It is pertinent that in April 2013, The New York Times revealed that Pakistan had made a secret deal in 2004 to allow the CIA to conduct drone attacks on civilian targets provided Washington spared its nuclear facilities and the mountain camps where Kashmiri militants were being trained for attacks in India. Despite this, New Delhi has allowed Omar Abdullah to continue his Surrender & Rehabilitation Policy (also launched in 2004 – what a coincidence) under which Pakistan-trained terrorists are re-entering the State via Nepal.


Obviously Pakistan has no intention to give up the plan to annex Jammu and Kashmir by force someday, and is placing its men in strategic places to that effect. It is high time that the Government of India directed intelligence agencies to collect information about the activities and whereabouts of all militants who entered the State since the Policy was launched in 2004. It is imperative that the Indian citizenship (if granted) of militants holding Pakistani passports at the time of their entry into the country be immediately cancelled, and all illegal ingress of Pakistani nationals into Indian Territory via Nepal be curbed forthwith.


India cannot afford to lose sight of the fact that the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has been very active in Nepal and Bangladesh for decades. Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked from Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, on December 24, 1999, by Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen; a young man was stabbed to death in the incident. The plight of the passengers ended only with the release of three militants, Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and Maulana Masood Azhar, at Kandahar, Afghanistan.


Even before this incident, the ISI was active along the 391-km Indo-Nepal border, making inroads among the population and dotting the region with mosques and madarsas to serve as bases for its anti-India operations. Drugs, guns, timber, gold, fake currency and mercenaries make their way freely across this porous frontier. Indian intelligence agencies have noted Dawood Ibrahim’s footprint in the region.


Yet despite the clear intermeshing of Pakistan’s official intelligence agency with terrorists trained in that country and pushed into India to operate in J&K and other parts of the country, neither the State Government nor the Central Government have shown the necessary concern and vigilance to guard against and beat back the infiltrators. Instead, the reverse has happened.


Nowhere in the world will one find another instance of a nation so determined to undo itself. This is what India has come to under the UPA.



This article was written for the special Independence Day edition of Sanskritik Vartapatra [Marathi magazine]

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