(The widely projected “Surgical Strikes”according to many commentators have political objectives within the country rather than military objectives across the border!)
Recently Captain Amrinder Singh, the Congress leader from Punjab took a TV team to the border to show that everything was normal and there was no war like situation. A video about the visit has been posted on the Facebook. According to him, the Punjabi farmers were unnecessarily being displaced by the government on the pretext of an impending war. He related his experience of previous Indo-Pak wars and the situation during the Operation Brass Tacks and Operation Parakaram when the borders were very much alive. According to him during those days the borders were mined, there was artillery and thousands of soldiers. At the present moment there was hardly any noticeable activity on both sides of the border. He questioned the government’s directive to the border people to vacate their villages leaving behind unharvested crops. According to him this was all being done for political reasons by the BJP and Prime Minister Modi to consolidate the Hindu vote in forthcoming UP elections. The easiest way to mobilise the Hindu vote has always been to resurrect the bogey of external threat from Pakistan.
A number of questions have been raised about the “Surgical Strikes” across the border by many people within the country and also from abroad. In the absence of any proof shown by the government, doubts have been expressed by many people regarding the authenticity of these operations. The Pakistani side has taken a large group of foreign media persons to the Line of Control on their side to show them that no such operations have been conducted. Within the country high ranking persons like the Chief Minister of Delhi have asked for the proof for which a sedition charge has been filed against him. In fact demanding of proof about the strikes has also been classified as an anti-national act! Many foreign agencies have expressed reservations about these operations. Within Kashmir, Engineer Rashid, the Assembly Member from Kupwara, in whose constituency two of the five places where the alleged strikes are supposed to have taken place are located, says there has been no firing or any other activity in that area. He too termed these as measures for getting political mileage for U.P. elections. In fact, Engineer Rashid in his press conference alleged that Rajnath Singh was being projected as a strong man taking on Pakistan head on to prepare him as the new Chief Minister of U.P. His strong arm methods to harshly put down the Kashmir uprising was alleged to be the part of the plan. Apart from everything else, even the Chinese have alleged that India is trying to derive political mileage from the anti-terror operations.
Whether the strikes took place in reality or not is not as important now as it has beenrevealed that such events have been occurring across the Line of Control earlier also. Both the sides have been making forays into each other’s’ territory but without any fuss or publicity. The most important thing is the War Hysteria raised after the surgical strikes mostly through the corporate media which has converted its TV studios into virtual war rooms. It appears to have a twofold aim. One was to drown the Kashmir uprising in the war cacophony and the other was to garner Hindu vote in U.P. by presenting a macho image in relation to Pakistan. A detailed analysis of these strikes has been given by Seema Mustafa in her article on the online newspaper, thecitizen.in. She has raised a number of points in regard to this operation.
It appears, both the countries have been only drawing political mileage from these strikes. Even though the Pakistanis have made a lot of noise but the main consideration appears to be somehow drown their own internal political woes in the noise! The Prime Minister there too seems to be facing many uncomfortable questions which he is trying to drown in the noise of the strikes! They have not really made any concerted effort to get the pressure on Kashmiris lessened in any practical manner. This is in contrast to their earlier slogans of a 1000 year war for Kashmiris. Allegedly, their Prime Minister’s family has very strong business relations with Modi’s financiers like Adani and Jindal. Apart from the nuclear holocaust, they cannot afford war because of the ruling family business interests on the two sides of the border!
Whatever may have been the motives of the two countries in these strikes and their aftermath, the real sufferers at the moment are Kashmiris who are used as a whipping boy by both the sides.They have been subjected “surgically” to continuous internal hemorrhage for last four months. The Kashmir valley is bleeding and the Jhelum has virtually turned red! More than 90 person mostly teenagers have been killed; more than 15,000 injured; more than 1,000 hit in the eyes with pellets of whom over a 100 may lose total eyesight and over 6000 or may be even more have been arrested and a large number including minors have been detained under the draconian Public Safety Act. Homes of the people have been vandalized all over the valley. Crops have been burnt and apple boxes destroyed in some places. Kashmir is virtually considered enemy territory by the forces. They seem to have been given a green signal to launch the strongest crack down in the history of Kashmir. The cruelest thing has been attacking a funeral procession of a teenager Junaid killed by pellets just outside his home. Last time such a thing happened was in 1990 which made the then governor lose his job! However, at that time people all over the country especially the parliamentarians had some conscience. They raised a furor. Now, the Parliament is with the people who have let lose a reign of terror. Even the media is not giving the coverage which one would normally expect in a democratic country. They too seem to have been swayed by the war hysteria and the so called “National Interest” which is the easiest excuse to shelve everything.
The most pathetic and ironical instance is the State ruling party members asking for a probe into the killing of the teenager Junaid. How can the perpetrators of the crime ask for a probe against themselves? The cruelest instance is the head of the government which has given umpteen wounds to Kashmiris and made them bleed for all these months, asking the Prime Minister to put balm on their wounds! Can there be anything more hypocritical and naïve than that?However, the most ridiculous stand has been from the so called opposition mainstreamleaders. Instead of having the moral courage to express their agony about the Kashmir mayhem by quitting the assembly, they are just tweeting and tweeting which amounts to spraying salt on these raw wounds of Kashmiris. Right now Kashmir is in a logjam between the official curfew and the peoples’ shut down. There seems no end in sight unless the Central Government takes a bold and a practical initiative as advised by many veteran leaders, political experts and reputed journalists. An unconditional dialogue with all stakeholders after restoring normalcy not by the force of the soldiers but by the true balm of the confidence building measures of restoring all the basic human rights without any reservations.
Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir