Kashmiri Pandits must be armed for self defence

Killings in cold-blood continue unabated in the Kashmir valley. In the last few months a lot of innocent lives have succumbed in Kashmir to the hatred of a few and designs of some state and non-state actors. Vijay Kumar a bank employee in Kulgam, Rahul Bhat a Kashmiri Hindu Pandit Clerk in Budgam, a Hindu lady school teacher, Hindu migrant laborer, the list is growing by the day. What to think of men who would shoot at unsuspecting and unarmed men and women – brazen impotence and sheer madness? Sympathetic Muslims and non-Muslims have become targets of the terrorist attacks.

It is quite evident that the terror acts have been perpetrated to convey a message and the message is pretty much the same (since 1990s) – “Leave Kashmir or die”.

The ability to strike at a time and place of one’s choosing at un-suspecting targets may be easy, but can it be executed with such impunity without the active support of some locals?

Reasons for Increasing Terrorist Attacks

(a)       Proclaim a challenge to a strong central political leadership that revoked Article 370.

(b)       Angst over revocation of Article 370.

(c)       Angst over return of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits back to the Kashmir valley.

(d)       Challenge rehabilitation efforts of Kashmiri Hindu Pandit.

(e)       Make local administration’s job difficult.

(f)        Prevent influx of non-native business and industry.

(g)       Make the destination un-attractive for foreign investment.

(h)       Reset the environment within the Kashmir valley to the times when terror reigned supreme.

(i)        De-stabilise the return of Kashmiri awam to the mainstream.

It is for the political dispensation to conceive of a solution to this prolonged stratagem of terror by our foes. To battle a diabolic design, seemingly draconian solutions may have to be adopted. The use of technology like facial recognition to combat terror is already employed by countries like the USA.

Possible solutions

(a)       Arm the Kashmiri Hindu Pandit both physically and mentally. Train them on the use of fire arms, use of communication systems, etc., for their self-protection.

(b)       Identification of vulnerable persons, communities, pockets of habitation that require protection and arrange for the same as practicable.

(c)       Establish a larger and more effective local spy network.

(d)       Use of technology such as facial recognition (FACE).

(e)       Use of drones for surveillance by day and night.

(f)        Use of armed drones for deterrence.

Response of all stakeholders shall have a bearing to the Kashmir woe. The Government of India and Administrator of Kashmir, majority community, minority communities, security forces, intelligence agencies and media – all need to play their parts diligently to ensure peace and progress.

The government has to communicate to the Kashmiri awam very clearly their objectives and methodologies for achieving those objectives. That must necessarily include their views on taking all communities together, handling dissent, and managing disturbance & terrorism. A clear communication is vital to keep distrust at bay and give a chance for all communities and enterprises to thrive in fairness. The need to balance securing freedom / viewpoints of minority communities against protecting legitimate interests / viewpoints of majority will be a challenge to contend with. The use of pervasive technologies like FACE that are invasive in nature ought to be undertaken with empathy and ethically. The need to dispel concerns of people abundantly before deploying such technology cannot be over-emphasized.

Understanding needs to dawn on the majority community that their progress is tied to the progress of other minority communities in the region. In a spirit of brotherhood, the conscientious ought to be more vocal in their support to the minorities and make genuine efforts to integrate the minorities. Only a people’s movement that propagates shunning of hate and violence can change the tide.

The chorus call of the Kashmiri Hindu Pandit community to the government for protection, or witness another mass exodus of the community from the valley is questionable. The community needs to understand that the meek will be bullied. They have to stand up on their two feet and “face the devil if not take the fight to him”. They have to stop running, become mentally strong and rise up to the occasion. The government, administration and the security forces can only provide protection as much as their bandwidths permit. To expect protection all times of day and night and at every nook and cranny is being unreal. Therefore, the Kashmiri Hindu Pandit community needs to train themselves for self-protection and become self-reliant. Sacrifices will have to be made. The community will have to be prepared for the same. Time demands they be brave and fight for survival and for their homeland. They have the backing of the government, security apparatus and the people of India, this time round. If they choose to get bullied, their survival in Kashmir will be jeopardized permanently. So, it is time for Kashmiri Hindu Pandit to stop threatening the government about mass exodus and face the challenge squarely.  

Winning hearts and minds of the local population while discharging their duties firmly is a “constant” that security forces have to deliver on. Coordination between the administration, army, police, state intelligence bureau and other security forces and their integration over technology platforms like facial recognition and other surveillance grids will require diligence and maturity.

Time appears ripe for highlighting and effectively publicizing the plight of Kashmiris in PoK to the Kashmiri awam and the politico-socio-economic state of Pakistan. Native media has an onerous role to play in showcasing the evolution of a failed state like Pakistan and benefits of a mature democracy like India.Kashmir was and has always been an integral and inalienable part of India. The prosperity of Kashmir rests on the shoulders of all stakeholders and their ability to live with “plurality”.

HVG
HVG
Writer is a veteran of the Indian Army, and is inspired to seek a bridge on topical issues.

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  1. […] The reassuring part is that those perpetrating targeted killings in Kashmir Valley are efficiently being hunted down by security forces and the local police. Take the case of Rather who had survived for so long but was finally corned and eliminated within three months after he had brutally murdered Bhat and Amreen. While security forces and intelligence agencies deserve due credit for neutralising this bloodthirsty fiend, there are all the reasons to believe that it was public anger against targeted killings of innocents th… […]

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