While on social networking sites Kashmiris describe a statement of the Army Chief that those who obstruct Army operations during encounters will be treated as overground workers of militants as “an acknowledgment of Kashmir movement being indigenous” the opposition National Conference Thursday described the statement of the Army Chief as “aggressive, hot headed and belligerent.”
“The remarks of the Army Chief about dealing mercilessly with the isolated and alienated youth of Kashmir are big disappointment,” the NC state spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said. He said such posturing would compound the situation and increase the hostility in the Valley. Tanvir Sadiq, political secretary to NC working president, Omar Abdullah, said, it was tragic New Delhi was still trying to talk to the youth of Kashmir through the defense establishment when the need of the hour was to engage them politically.
On Wednesday Army chief Bipin Rawat said, “Those who obstruct our operations during encounters and are not supportive will be treated as overground workers of terrorists.” He issued the statement after paying tribute to the army personnel who were killed in encounters with militants in Kashmir on Tuesday. The Army Chief said security forces in J&K were facing higher casualties as the local population is preventing them in conducting the operations and at times even supporting the militants to escape.
Mattu said youth rushing towards encounter sites and incidents of stone-pelting on the forces during encounters were worrying and alarming signs of the sense of alienation and disenchantment in Kashmir. “The need of the hour is to understand and acknowledge the deep sense of isolation in Kashmir and deal with it with statesmanship and magnanimity. Threatening and warning youth who are already anguished and irrational to the sense of caring little for their lives will be of little consequence but would only push them farther from reconciliation”, Mattu said.
He said aggressive, hot-headed statements would fuel the spurt in local militancy in Kashmir and make the challenge of engaging with the youth insurmountable. “Young men are choosing the path of armed militancy in Kashmir in numbers that we haven’t seen since the early 90s. Even though the passes along the Line of Control are still snowed shut, militancy related incidents have increased steeply due to a spurt in young, educated local boys picking up the gun. Even after the mayhem and bloodshed of 2016, if New Delhi still thinks warning and threatening the youth will help – it’s a tragic delusion”, Mattu said.
“We need to understand there is a significant, palpable social sanctity for militancy in the young demographic in Kashmir and this derives its vitality from the political sentiment and how New Delhi has failed to engage with the sentiment in a sustained and constructive manner. This social sanctity can’t be eradicated by threats of showing ‘no mercy’. If anyone thinks threatening the youth will help – that individual and that establishment has clearly failed to analyze the recent history of the political turmoil in Kashmir. Repression and retaliation will only fuel the anger”, Mattu added.
On the social networking sites like Facebook, Kashmiris analysts are equating the statement of the Army Chief as “admission of defeat.”
“We should be thankful to the Indian Army Chief. He has accepted that people are coming out to protect the rebels. He accepted the current political movement is run by the public who are fighting for right to self-determination. He accepted there is no difference between the man with a gun and the man without a gun. Both are same. He accepted Indian army is at war with Kashmir. The only new thing today was that he officially announced a war on Kashmiris. We have been waiting for this announcement from past 70 years. Till now, this war was under wraps of democracy, of "normalcy and peace," of imposed leaders who were mere puppets , of tourism, of sadhbhavna, of "development and progress" and so on. Today, he lifted the veil. We are at war with the India,” a Facebook post, widely shared, reads.
Gowhar Geelani, a well-known Kashmiri political analyst, wrote, "Army facing higher casualties due to support of local population to armed rebels," says Indian Army chief, Bipin Rawat. Mr. Rawat's admission that people are not supporting army clearly demonstrates that in Kashmir the movement is indigenous. He has also absolved Pakistan.”