On 22nd May the defence minister of India made a statement, reported in popular Indian media, that Army will make select target killings of militants in Kashmir. The term militant or terrorist is no more only a weapon carrying man; it has been constantly expanded by Indian media-military nexus to include any dissenter, protestor, rebel or a sympathetic voice irrespective of age. Indian policy of attack and defence in Kashmir has been three-fold. One is that of direct confrontation with gunmen, other functions at a political level, hence making the Kashmiri Pro-India politics as military mainstream and other is the covert operations against people who form formal or informal networks that resist or are sympathetic to resistance. This latter category of people have been headache for Indian state as they are key players in resistance networks but are in the garb of identities that shield them from direct confrontation. Hence to paralyse these networks which regenerate resistance mechanisms locally, even if the top resistance faces a jolt, becomes necessary for Indian state. The elimination of what is secret is carried secretly.
‘Swach Kashmir Mission’ has hence been started from Sopore, whereby elimination of individuals who form the backbone of resistance networks has been started. Since such individuals cannot be killed in encounters, fake or real, hence a mechanism has been devised to target people directly under the garb of “unidentified gunmen”. These sympathetic men and women are not individuals of a particular party but are individuals who have served movement without being in the limelight; these are foot-soldiers who have been in the “loop of resistance networks” and are important contacts between groups. The idea is thus not only to eliminate them but to isolate circles of resistance and the overall flow of information and work.
The timing of ‘Swach Kashmir Mission’ coincides with the rise of right-wing in India and its entry in Kashmir, though a caveat is in place that one tends to absolve the centre or left of India or Kashmir of performing such brazen acts. The PDP in its earlier stint in coalition with the centrist Congress, riding on a green wave of healing touch policies eliminated top rung commanders in a similar pattern. Thus whoever is in power, the state and its agencies follow the Chankayan policies of deceit. The names of places and the people under target change but the state remains same, so do its coercive policies.
The state agencies this time are even “manufacturing consent” people will be made to believe in splinter groups, internal infighting or arrival of a new group. These may or may not be true events. There may be differences between groups , there may be infighting as well and there certainly may be plans of arrival of new groups but these certainly are isolated events that are used as timing aid for carrying brazen acts and justifying them. This is no secret that some armed resistance men in Kashmir particularly in Sopore have been giving tough time to State agencies by rising above the traps of technology and events such as these, if successful may be enough to flush them from their comfort zones, and thus willingly or unwillingly will play in the hands of state agencies. If “Swach Kashmir Strategy” is to be viewed with respect to an Indian point of view, it is a master stroke which will yield many results for them over a period of time, but one never knows Kashmir and Kashmiris, they may puncture grand strategies and plans on any given day because strategies are made by experts for an ideal, uniform, monotonic bunch of people not for Brownian chaos like Kashmir where predictions and idealism are just words devoid of meaning.
And this too shall pass!
Umair Gul is a PhD scholar at Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
[Views expressed are author’s own]