Kashmir – Will Counter Militancy (Not only Militants) Gain Momentum in 2019? | Security Risks Asia Made with Humane Club

Kashmir – Will Counter Militancy (Not only Militants) Gain Momentum in 2019?

Published Jan 14, 2019
Updated May 30, 2020

There is a not so subtle difference between countering militancy and neutralising terrorists in encounters that old hands in counter insurgency know too well from experience in this domain of conflicts over last many decades.

The fact is that killing terrorists will not end militancy – the root cause and support of the masses that is the oxygen that sustains the long war.

To eliminate the root cause – political initiative is necessary while to gain support of the masses, a people friendly approach is essential.

It is not surprising thus that while 2018 marked a major success in eliminating terrorists with 253 killed the highest numbers in the last decade, there is no assurance that this will mean the end of terrorism in Kashmir as there are no signs of the Government in Delhi willing to take a political initiative either through talks with all stakeholders including the separatists in Kashmir or with Pakistan.

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat made this amply clear in his response during the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi on 09 January 2019 when he rejected scope of talks with the separatists in Kashmir (ironically while accepting Afghan Taliban as a legitimate party in Afghanistan- a statement that official circles of the Ministry of External Affairs were quick to reject]

Will some measures be taken to adopt a people friendly approach given that the Indian Armed Forces Doctrine 2018 released in November 2018 has outlined for internal security, “When requisitioned to  deal  with internal threats and challenges, the Indian Army will prosecute operations in a firm manner using the principle of minimum force, focussing on winning hearts and minds, providing security to the local populace and uphold the principles of Human Rights”.

The outcome of congregations to disrupt Cordon and Search Operations (CASO), funeral of terrorists and participation of the people in the General and State Assembly elections will determine if the current mood of angst has been diffused.

Much will also depend if the security forces are able to convey empathy through their rhetoric rather than carrying a harsh line.

If the first two factors stated above remain in the negative than continuance of elimination of terrorists will remain the main trend in 2019 supplemented by establishment of a thick security umbrella for conduct of elections.

The flow of intelligence based on which CASO have been launched is smooth which will enable the security forces to continue to eliminate many of the 300 terrorists said to be in Kashmir at present mostly in South Kashmir.

There are likely to be approximately 500-600 terrorists waiting in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to cross over and their level of motivation and training will determine whether they will be able to increase the level of violence or remain restricted to soft targets such as isolated police posts and civilian vehicles once inducted.

The residual strength of terrorists may go down if there are no more new inductions in the ranks and counter radicalisation measures gain momentum.

An unknown factor is rise of number of youth of radical Islamic ilk who owe allegiance to ideology of global terrorist groups, their numbers remains low but there could be a vast majority who could be having lurking sympathy some of whom may join the two or three cells that are in the Valley giving them the muscle.

Caution is also warranted due to large number of up and down movement of support cadres of terrorists groups to Delhi and other parts of North India to procure arms and munitions and also to spread disaffection. Some of these cadres could be indoctrinated by the radical Islamist ideologies.

Will a post 2019 elections government in Delhi be willing to take the risk of finding a solution to the challenge of militancy in Kashmir is another unknown.

If the powers to be do so there is a scope for finally ending the stalemate that is certainly hurting the people in the Valley.