The developments in the past month have made it abundantly clear that the Centre this time around has made up its mind to get the violence mongers in Jammu and Kashmir, as the cliché goes, by their neck. On the morning of Independence Day, WhatsApp groups were fed with a video clip which showed the Tricolour being unfurled from a telecom tower in Tral, the hometown of neutralised terrorist Burhan Wani.
As the flag proudly fluttered, it was captured on the camera and later released on social media with AR Rahman’s “Vande Mataram” playing in the background. The clear message being that the Government is going to follow a policy of domination in the Valley. If any doubts remained, it soon got dispelled when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke from the ramparts of Red Fort. In asking the Kashmiri youth to drop the stone and hold the laptop for a prosperous future, Modi made clear that he is in no haste for an early “political solution” to violence in the Valley.
The agenda of security forces seem to be clear. Having successfully eliminated Burhan Wani, the leader of new militancy, they are now out to prevent emergence of any new leadership. And this would need hard and sometimes harsh measures, both at the domestic front and also on the international forums. New Delhi so far has demonstrated that it has “plans” to address the issue on both the fronts. How effective or ineffective they are, only time will tell.
The fluttering of Tricolour in Tral on August 15 gave many a sense of relief that Indian Sovereignty still held ground in the Valley. For the records, hoisting the Indian flag was not a child’s play either. A Rashtriya Rifles jawan on August 14 climbed the 50-metre tall mobile tower in Tral, removed the Pakistani flag and hoisted the Indian Tricolour. The entire act was recorded in a video using a drone. Thereafter it went viral on the social media.
Just about a month back, as Burhan was buried in Tral, violent mobs attacked installations of police and paramilitary forces at various places in the Valley and set ablaze several buildings including three police installations. There was no deployment of security forces in Tral and adjoining areas to avoid a confrontation with the people coming to participate in the funeral.
There were also reports of militants “superimposing their attacks” on public protests, as was evident in an attack on District Police Lines in Pulwama which the security forces thwarted. The camps at Sangam, Larnoo, Seer, Gopalpora, Minority camp Mattan, Kokernag, Dooru, and Janglat Mandi were also attacked by the protestors. Having allowed violence to the brim, the counter by the security forces started and in a month’s time Tral was all over the globe with Tricolour fluttering on the highest tower in the town.
The Tral image attempts to give a picture that violence has effectively been contained, and allowing people to come out on the day of funeral was probably part of the strategy. This was followed by effective counter-plan as the militants tried to “super-impose” their moves on the mass protests. Now that the streets have fallen silent, the government has gone into fighting on the new frontier – the new age terror. If Burhan Wani made extensive use of social media to iconise himself as new age terrorist, the security forces, too, have been effectively using, for the past month, the same medium to establish the rule of law and Indian Sovereignty.
To their added credit, in the midst of the current turmoil, they managed to revive the annual Amarnath Yatra and successfully concluded it on August 18 -- the Raksha Bandhan day. The Yatra route passes largely through South Kashmir, the area where Burhan Wani operated. Suspended for barely two days after Wani’s killing, the Yatra resumed from Jammu base camp on the afternoon of July 10 and continued unhindered for more than a month except for the matters of weather.
On the political front, the interesting development has been relative quiet maintained by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, which has provided the much-needed space to the security forces to carry out their operations. She left it to her colleague and People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone to battle it out with political rivals like former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah of the National Conference. Lone suggested in an interview that only five percent of Kashmir population was protesting on roads, which, if true, indicates towards protests getting restricted to a few pockets of the sprawling state.
Additionally, Pakistan’s designs have so far been neutralised both on ground zero and in the United Nation. Though the new age Kashmiris may continue to vent their misplaced angst on the social media, it looks that it is not going to take their movement very far as New Delhi has opened a new front -- Balochistan. The freedom fighters of Balochistan have a stronger case against Pakistan than separatists in the Valley may ever have against India.
It would, however, be too early to say that Centre’s policy of “political non-engagement”, which includes not send an all-party delegation to the state, is working well. But it has certainly demonstrated that the matters in the Valley were not being addressed in the pro forma manner anymore and initiatives henceforth will have elements of surprise - and even shock.
(Sidharth Mishra is President, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice, and is Consulting Editor, Millennium Post. The views are personal.)