Recent terrorist attack in Kashmir offers insight into Pak Army’s devious strategy

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J&K Police personnel inspect the grenade blast site at Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar on October 12, 2019. (Photo: PTI)
J&K Police personnel inspect the grenade blast site at Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar on October 12, 2019. (Photo: PTI)

Whenever any Prime Minister of Pakistan reads out a script on Kashmir, the chances of his prognosis going awry are virtually nonexistent. Reason? Because it’s not the Senate in Islamabad rather the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi that formulates and executes the nation’s Kashmir policy and all that the Prime Minister does is to faithfully parrot the script handed over by the army. This is why PM Imran Khan’s prediction in his UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) address that Kashmir will witness a “bloodbath” once restrictions are lifted needs to be taken seriously because after being routed on the diplomatic front on the Kashmir issue, an obdurate Rawalpindi is hell bent upon using muscle power to keep its battered Kashmir flagship afloat.

Two grenade attacks have rocked busy market places of Kashmir in the last two weeks but considering past statistical data, this isn’t something unusual. Yet what’s striking about these attacks is that while more than 20 persons have been injured in these two incidents, none of them are security force personnel and this raises the question: “how come?” The media hasn’t dwelt on this aspect at all and without caring to investigate, relied on the clichéd explanation that the grenade was actually aimed at security force personnel present in the area but it missed the target and injured civilians instead!

Though theoretically possible, the ‘target missing’ explanation needs to be taken with a pinch of salt for two reasons. One, a grenade is what in army parlance referred to as an “area weapon” as it designed to disintegrate into small fragments that fly out with immense velocity in all directions on detonation and can kill, maim or injure anyone who happens to be within its effective range.

The nature and extent of injuries confirm that in both these attacks, the hand grenade used were the standard Pakistan Army issue ‘Arges 84 P2A1’. Manufactured by Pakistan Ordnance Factory in Wah, it has (as per the manufacturer) an “effective range” of 30 meter radius and contains approximately 5,000 steel balls of 2 to 2.3 mm diameter. That’s why it’s very surprising that not even a single security force personnel was injured in both attacks as it implies that those who hurled these grenades missed their target by nearly a hundred feet. Isn’t it intriguing that trained terrorists could have such a poor aim?

Secondly, if the terrorists are genuinely worried about the safety of locals (as they claim), then isn’t it strange that they should choose to attack security forces in crowded places with grenades that shower 5,000 steel balls all around and can kill, maim or injure anyone who’s within 30 meters from the point of detonation? Will the terrorist sympathisers explain that if they believe that Kashmir is the most militarised place in the world, then why can’t terrorists find suitable military targets in isolated areas rather than attacking them in densely crowded places?

The answer as to why grenade attacks take place in crowded places is not hard to find because Khan has himself given a clear clue by his “bloodbath” prophecy. And it’s plain and simple. Places teeming with people were intentionally selected so as to evoke a reaction from security forces and thereafter blame them for killing or injuring innocent civilians and thereby project the forces as being a trigger-happy lot with no regards for human lives. Just imagine what our learned human rights activists would have said had the security forces opened fire in self-defence and there would have been some collateral damage due to crossfire?

After abrogation of Article 370, terrorists may not have gone in for any large-scale attack but that’s only because with the UNGA session and FATF (Financial Action Task Force) meet coming up, Pakistan didn’t want another Pulwama like incident to happen. In fact, Islamabad was so concerned about rogue elements amongst its terrorist ranks going ahead and doing something similar, that Khan continuously kept harping on the “false flag” operation scenario. But now that the UNGA session is over and the FATF meet underway, the coast is clear for the ISI to create situations to fulfill Khan’s “bloodbath” prophecy.

In order to prove Khan’s UNGA statement that “Kashmiris are caged like animals in homes,” terrorists have been intimidating, maiming and even killing people who have no other option but to come out and go about their business in order to make ends meet. A 65-year old shopkeeper was shot dead by motorcycle borne terrorists when he was closing his shop in Parimpora, Srinagar. As per police records till mid-September at least 40 incidents of people connected with apple trade have been threatened and even severely beaten up by terrorists.

In a heart-wrenching incident that occurred on September 6th, terrorists entered the house of a prominent apple trader in Dangerpora area of Sopore in North Kashmir and fired at four family members. The most abhorrent part was that the terrorists shot each victim in the leg turn by turn, not even sparing a 70-year-old man or a young girl who was only five years old. This gruesome act was meant to serve as a warning to others not to pursue apple trade and it did have a telling effect. But it seems that the terrorists’ bloodlust wasn’t satiated with maiming people by shooting them in their legs, because just the other day, in a horrific incident, the driver of an apple laden truck was killed and his vehicle set ablaze.

Once again, the media reported this incident with its stock explanation that the terrorists committed this ghastly act to deter apple growers, merchants and transporters from transporting the produce outside the state. But nothing could be more fallacious because what appears to be an act of madness has a definite a method. If the aim of terrorists was only to intimidate locals, then wouldn’t another round of ‘shooting in the leg’ or burning down apple laden trucks be good enough to send the intended message across? Why kill a driver who was merely making a living by ferrying apples? Now that yet another apple trader from Punjab and a migrant labourer hailing from Chhattisgarh being murdered by terrorists on Wednesday, it’s clear that there is a much more sinister motive behind these killings.

Once again, the answer lies in Khan’s “bloodbath” prediction. What needs to be noted here is that the driver murdered by terrorists belonged to Rajasthan and it wasn’t just coincidental that the victim happened to be an ‘outsider’. He was specifically killed in order to arouse anti-Kashmiri sentiments across the country so that Kashmiris working outside the state would be targeted by locals. With political parties and religious organisations eagerly waiting to pounce upon such opportunities for furthering their own motivated agendas, the killing of a non-Kashmiri in Kashmir has the potential of igniting violence and this is exactly why the ISI ordered terrorists to target an ‘outsider’!

When Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has announced that the Pakistan Army will “go to any extent” for the sake of Kashmir, it’s clear that the ISI would orchestrate a ‘no holds barred’ offensive to create unrest in Kashmir. Furthermore, with Khan using the UNGA platform to foment communal disharmony within our county by openly instigating our Muslim brethren, it’s important for us to shed our prejudices and unite to jointly thwart Pakistan’s fissiparous designs.

The people of Kashmir need to see through Pakistan’s game plan because if Islamabad really cares for the wellbeing of Kashmiris as it professes, then why would it direct the so called “freedom fighters” to use brute force to the extent of maiming and even killing innocent Kashmiris just to ensure that normalcy doesn’t return to the Valley? Lastly, the people of Kashmir should also realise that if they feel that they are still “caged like animals in homes,” then the real culprit isn’t the government but Pakistan-backed “freedom fighters” who at the behest of ISI are terrorising them into staying indoors!

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