Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dangerous portends for India: Kashmir "slipping" out, intelligence network is "cracking", normalcy is "deceptive"

Prem Shankar Jha
By Our Representative
If true, these are dangerous portends for the protagonists of integrity of India. Powerful individuals visiting Kashmir have, for the first time, begun saying that the valley is "slipping" out of India's hands. Other reports quote army officials as saying that its intelligence network is starting to crack up across the state.
Already, well-informed experts comments have begun begun saying that Modi, who “strategically” raised the issue of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to contain Pakistan's design in Kashmir, is actuallyonly legitimizing “Kashmiris' claim for azadi.”
One of the top-notch columnists, Prem Shankar Jha, who was part of a fact-finding team visiting Srinagar, basing on his first-hand experience, says, whatever normalcy one may observe on reaching the airport is “deceptive”, pointing towards how the delegation the SMHS hospital found its corridors “crowded with relatives of the injured in varying degrees of grief and pain” – most them relatives of victims of pellet bullets.
“Although the doctors attending to the patients were keen to meet us, our way was barred by a wall of bearded young men in their twenties who began pushing us back physically from the entrance to the wards, shouting, 'Azadi, azadi, go back to India, go back'.”
On way to the Kashmir University, crossing a barrier erected by stone-pelting boys, the group saw the boys who were in charge, which “one looked about 12 years old and the other, who was clearly his leader, was around 16 and doing his best to grow a beard.”
Writes Jha, “I have been coming to the Valley since the first outbreak of armed revolt 26 years ago, but have never before witnessed such a unanimity of sentiment. The very air of the Valley is suffused with a profound anger directed against the Modi government for its utterly heartless treatment of Kashmir, its betrayal of its commitments to Kashmiris.”
“The anger is particularly virulent towards the Indian media”, he adds. “In 1990, the militants treated Indian and foreign journalists as allies who would carry their message to the larger Indian public and the world. Today they consider the Indian media to be their enemies, particularly TV channels. ”
“What India is facing is not, therefore, another bout of unrest to be managed and then forgotten, but an uprising”, Jha comments, adding, “The last such upsurge had followed the Gowkadal massacre of January 1990, when the Kashmir police had opened fire on a large, unarmed procession from both ends of a street, killing between 24 and 55 unarmed civilians.”
Pointing out that the current uprising is “far more deeply imbedded and pervasive”, he says, “In 1990, the mainstream parties were strongly entrenched in the Valley. Not only were their cadres against the uprising, but they became its first victims.”
“This time”, Jha says, “There is a wall of support for the basic demand of azadi from India that stretches across every stratum of Kashmiri society. In meeting after meeting, our interlocutors pointed out that unlike the upsurge after the Amarnath land scam in 2008 and the Macchhil fake encounter killings by the army in 2010, this time there is no specific demand for justice, punishment or restitution embedded inside the upsurge of stone pelting or the calls for azadi.”
He adds, “University professors, lawyers, hoteliers, houseboat and shikara owners, traders, manufacturers, former militants and even militant leaders who had surrendered voluntarily in the 1990s are now determined to see the uprising through till its end.”
Jha insists, “What the government of India is facing is not terrorism or a proxy war by Pakistan. Elements of both are present within it. R&AW estimates that Pakistan has spent Rs 300 crores in the past year or more, encouraging militancy in Kashmir."
He adds, "But no amount of money or exhortation could have made 1.5 lakh people from all over South Kashmir rush to Tral within hours of Wani’s death to catch a last glimpse of him and offer no fewer than 40 prayers for his soul.”
Elsewhere, Jha has been quoted as saying during his visit to Srinagar, “Kashmir is in danger of spinning out of control. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not act, Kashmir will slip away from India."

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