RE-INVENTING JEHAD, KASHMIR STYLE
Forced displacement has set the Kashmiri Pandits directly onto the path to oblivion. But, it isn’t just their dwindling numbers that are worrisome. With ex-militants sneaking into the valley in increasing numbers, it is the future of Kashmir, as an integral part of India, which is truly at stake.
Recent revelations put the number at two hundred and forty one militants, many with their Pakistani spouses and children who entered Kashmir and have been accorded resettlement assistance since November of 2010 when the state’s 2004 ‘Surrender and Rehabilitation’ policy was radically altered to encourage the Kashmiri Muslim insurgents to return to the valley. Today, several times as many have their applications under consideration with the state.
With terrorism its principal export, fomenting unrest in the valley is central to Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir. Surreptitiously supporting the affected Kashmiri Muslims, Pakistan’s terror arm, the ISI, has been heavily invested in their recruitment, radicalization, and training in the arts of insurgency and militancy. Caught in the vortex of a misguided struggle for freedom, Kashmir seethes in a strife spun by the oppressive forces of radical Islam that are ill-disposed to the existence of a pluralistic society.
The state administration seems focused less on rehabilitating upright Hindu state subjects in good standing, and committed more to rewarding the Muslim renegades that once took up arms against their own country, by offering them and their Pakistani spouses with generous perks and incentives for resettlement.
It’s a national disgrace for any country, let alone for the world’s largest democracy, that ought to take care of its people that were robbed of their fundamental human rights, to overlook their despicable living conditions. Mindless actions by both, the central and the state governments, in going all out to reward the very traitors who were once hard core militants and insurgents responsible for the ethnic cleansing of half a million Hindu state subjects, is yet another humiliation being hurled at the victims of that exodus. In the process, returning militants have become media’s celebrated heroes of reformation.
Offering a safe and welcoming passage to militants, especially when they were allowed to use a circuitous route not specified on the roster of authorized points of re-entry, has all the elements of a sinister plot to sneak jihadi elements from across the LOC into Kashmir. Call it ‘Reinventing Jihad, Kashmiri Style’.
Whether blinded by fervor to win the favors of the separatists, an election ploy, an astute collaboration in a wicked plot or simply a case of abject incompetence, the state administration has failed to reckon the long term disastrous implications of its so-called benevolence.
‘Leopard cannot change its spots’; neither can militants give up their violent streak. War in Afghanistan is winding down and militants from that conflict - Pakistan’s jihadi assets, tempered in the rugged Afghan mountains, are itching and too willing to switch their co-ordinates to Kashmir. It is preposterous to think that, when called upon by radical Islamists, the ‘changed-at-heart’ militants will be unwilling to re-engage.
By going out of its way to resettle the ‘reformed’ militants returning from the Pakistan occupied Kashmir, is the state administration complicit in a grand conspiracy to build the fifth column? Are the terrorist outfits stealthily regrouping with intent to set up sleeper cells in the garb of rehabilitation?
It is disconcerting that none of the ‘reformed’ militants entering sovereign India were inclined to make use of any of the authorized entry points, an essential element in their bid to qualify for legalized rehabilitation. Instead, these militants chose a winding route through Nepal’s pervious border with India.
Kashmiri Pandits are staunchly opposed to welcoming militants to the valley. Panun Kashmir deserves to be applauded for expressing its vehement opposition. While there is still a lot left to be done, at minimum, the community may wish to consider:
• A legal challenge to both, the state government’s initiative and to its tacit approval by the central government, seeking an injunctive relief from the policy and practice of legalized immigration and rehabilitation of renegade Kashmiri Muslims and their Pakistani spouses and children. A ‘stay order’, pending resolution by a competent court of law whether or not state’s adopted policy is anti-National and when implemented, would work to the detriment of India’s integrity and national security interests, should help put a lid temporarily on a potentially maleficent act by the state administration.
• Seeking a legal determination if the state’s actions a) constituted wilful disregard of and are an impediment to the peace and harmony returning to the valley, and b) were inconsistent, in letter and spirit, with the highest interests of India’s security needs against external threats.
• Filing a separate petition to force the central government to quarantine all such illegal immigrants and their families as are holding Pakistani Passports, declaring them enemy combatants and treating them as such, pending legal action against them, including deportation to their country of citizenship.
• Seeking court directive for the state and central governments to immediately initiate criminal prosecution, where applicable, of illegal immigrants that are known to have engaged in criminal activity against the peoples of Kashmir and their government before escaping to a region not under the direct administrative control of the state or the Indian State.
• Moving the courts to direct the central agencies, RAW, CBI and the Armed Forces, to conduct independent thorough debriefing of all militants and adult members of their families for intelligence gathering.
• Recognizing that Article 370 is inapplicable to India’s supreme National Security interests, the state government should be legally restrained from initiating or approving any such policies, now and forever in the future, that come under the purview of the Central Government. In other words, the state government of J&K must not be allowed to hold the Central Government’s prerogative to ransom.
Incidents, such as recent arrests of several Pakistanis carrying large sums of fake Indian currency in Nepal, ostensibly to fund terrorist activities in India, and an established role of J&K based Hizbul Mujahideen in using counterfeit Indian currency to fund jihadi activities, give credence to an alarming nexus that exists between Pakistan and the India-Nepal border.
Report, suggesting belated approval of the India-Nepal border crossing as an additional point of entry for use by returning militants, is appalling. If this ill-advised decision is designed to legitimize militants’ prior indiscretions of using an entry point of their choosing, the Government may have just opened the floodgates to as many entry points along the border as there are militants waiting in the wings; 3,974 strong, to be precise - all ready and willing to reinvent jihad, Kashmiri style.