by Lt Gen Raj Kadyan in IDR 2/7/13
The militancy in J&K is a mix of violence and clever use of psychological warfare. Having failed to succeed in their designs to defeat the security forces, the militants have been trying to discredit and defame them to ultimately force them to be moved out. There are many instances of false allegations against the Army operating under difficult conditions in the militancy affected area.
Unless one assumes that the whole battalion comprised depraved officers and men, the allegation is prima facie preposterous.
According to a recent news report a group of women representing various women’s organisations has submitted a memorandum to the Defence Ministry urging fresh investigation into the alleged mass rape in village Kunan Poshpura. The reported incident dates back to 23 Feb 1991 when soldiers belonging to 4thBattalion of the Rajputana Rifles are supposed to have resorted to mass rape during night of 23/24 Feb. The allegation at that time was, ‘… that up to 100 women “were gang-raped without any consideration of their age, married, unmarried, pregnancy etc”. The victims ranged in age from 13 to 80’. Unless one assumes that the whole battalion comprised depraved officers and men, the allegation is prima facie preposterous. The case had been investigated by different agencies at that time and the allegations had been found to be false. In light of this, what is even more disturbing is the reported comment of Shri Salman Khurshid during his visit to the Valley on 28 June 2013. When questioned about this 22 years old incident he is reported to have remarked, “What can I say? I can only say that I am ashamed that this happened in my country.” In saying so the Hon’ble Minister has gone against the finding of his own government. Nothing could be sadder.
A few hard facts about the reality in J&K need recalling. In the beginning of this year Mirwaiz Mohammad Umar Farooq had openly appealed from Srinagar that Pakistan should do something unless the ’freedom struggle’ dies out. After that Hurriyat leaders went to Pakistan, except Syed Geelani. As per media reports they all met Gen Kayani, the Pakistani Army Chief. They undoubtedly would have met the ISI operatives too. Mirwaiz also travelled to Muridke to meet Hafiz Saeed of LeT and spent more than a day there. Yasin Malik did the same and pictures of his meeting the LeT supremo were in the media. The attempted revival of terrorism is an outcome of those efforts. A recent ambush when eight soldiers lost their lives is one of the outcomes and is unlikely to be the last act of militants. The effort to get the old allegation of mass gang rape in Kunan Poshpura reopened is a related attack on morale of the security forces. Repeated calls by some quarters for removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act fall in the same mode.
It is a strange ceasefire where Pakistan can open fire whenever they need and we keep exercising restraint
Pakistan is known to have raised combined SSG and LeT teams for activities along the LoC. All these militancy related developments have an obvious link. The adversary appears to be winning in every encounter because they are highly trained and motivated and well armed. With our LoC fences, they cannot cross into Kashmir without fire support from Pakistani posts. There has been a ceasefire in place since 2003. It is a strange ceasefire where Pakistan can open fire whenever they need and we keep exercising restraint. When we were erecting the fence, Pakistan constructed a bund in many places along the LoC. As a result their small arms fire is more effective against us vis-à-vis ours. We have to respond with mortars and artillery to equalize that, making the retaliation more visible and seemingly escalatory.
It is the start of the new ‘freedom struggle – Jihad’. The intensity would surely pick up tempo after the Western troops pull out of Afghanistan next year and more jihadis are available to operate in J&K. Our head-in-the-sand policy is not leading us anywhere. We have to see and face reality. Undoubtedly secularism is the strength of our constitution. But secular should not be synonymous with suicide.