Any continued success of terrorists in Kashmir rings a warning bell for all countries around the world, as continued success of terrorists in Kashmir would amount to success of terrorism in the world, writes N.S. Venkataraman for South Asia Monitor.
By N.S. Venkataraman
Kashmir in India, which is blessed with bountiful natural beauty, has the potential to be one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world. People of Kashmir, known for their enterprising attributes and pleasant nature, have always been receiving tourists from all over the world with warmth and friendly attitude, making them feel comfortable and at home.
Unfortunately, this beautiful land is now facing turmoil, unrest and is undergoing strain. Even while the vast majority of the Kashmiris want to live in peaceful and progressive conditions, separatist elements and terrorists are making the life of Kashmir's citizens painful. Kashmir is now a victim of terrorism.
There is huge concern in India about the violent happenings in Kashmir and many wonder about the shape of things to come. The Narendra Modi government has been trying to find a meaningful solution to the vexed issues and has offered several economic and social packages to improve the situation in Kashmir and make life better for the people. But, the terrorists do not want this to happen and are doing everything possible to disrupt peace and harmony in the state by whipping up feelings of hatred against India and attacking the law enforcement agencies and innocent people.
There are some elements in Kashmir who want a separate state and some others who want to join Pakistan, while the voice of the vast majority of people remains unheard by the world media. Whenever opportunities are given to the people to explain their views about the state of affairs, they have responded positively, as is evident from the way the people participated in the electoral process and exercised their franchise. Recently, there has been a huge response from the Kashmiri youth to join the Indian Army during the recruitment process.
Obviously, the Indian government is facing serious problem here, as the terrorists seem to be having their way and they are indulging in unchecked violence and guerrilla warfare at their will. While it is very well-known that the people of Kashmir do not subscribe to the demand of the separatists and terrorists, the dilemma of the Indian government is how to tackle the terrorists who mix with the people and have no scruples and carry on with their campaign based on hatred and disruptive tactics. They have faith only in violence.
What is happening in Kashmir today is a war against terrorism and terrorists, who get training, and financial and military support from across the border and from other countries. This is not a conventional war, where one would clearly know the enemy to be hit. In the case of Kashmir, terrorists mix with ordinary people and also systematically brainwash the youth and it has become difficult for security agencies to hit the terrorists without hitting the innocent people. Some youths and students are now reported to be pelting stones and, obviously, they have been systematically brainwashed by the terrorist elements.
India is a democratic country with almost unchecked media freedom and liberty for people. Often, some sections of people indulge in sectarian activities and indulge in negative rhetoric and they are allowed to do so in the name of individual freedom and liberty and what is now frequently termed in India as "fundamental rights".
Many observers around the world are surprised that separatist elements and known leaders of terrorist groups are allowed to roam almost freely in Kashmir, issue statements and give interviews to the media. It appears that the Modi government is fighting in Kashmir with one hand tied, due to the democratic form of governance.
Now, the options for the Modi government appear to be limited. It has to necessarily put down the terrorists and separatist forces with a heavy hand. If such elements get support from across the border, then the bases from which they derive the support have to be attacked and destroyed and the supply lines should be effectively cut. There appears to be no other way, since the terrorist elements are not amenable to reason and it seems that they can understand only force. India has to be prepared to pay the necessary price for this essential and inevitable step.
Any continued success of terrorists in Kashmir rings a warning bell for all countries around the world, as continued success of terrorists in Kashmir would amount to success of terrorism in the world.
It is also necessary that the vast majority of people of Kashmir, who are helplessly watching the situation, should introspect as to what would happen to their dear land if the present disturbing conditions continued. Kashmir would face a horrible situation, in the unfortunate scenario of present status changing and the future generations of Kashmiris will not forgive the present generation for allowing any negative changes to happen.
It is high time that the world community understands the problems faced by the Indian government in dealing with terrorist elements in Kashmir and extend support. Let not the world remain unconcerned about terrorism in Kashmir.
(The author is Trustee of Chennai-based Non-Profit Organisation Nandini Voice for the Deprived. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to email@example.com)