Pakistan will try to enhance terrorist activities not only in J&K but in all of India. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence may activate and instruct its sleeper cells to carry out terrorist activities in communally sensitive places so that communal riots erupt in the country, writes J K Verma for South Asia Monitor
India's Home (Interior) Minister Amit Shah made the historic announcement in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) on August 5 about defanging Article 370 and abrogating Article 35 A of the Indian Constitution. It was a major decision as, seven decades after India’s independence, the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was scrapped and the state was divided into two separate union territories. Now Indians residing outside J&K can also purchase landed property and settle in the state.
The government observed complete secrecy and took exhaustive precautions before announcing these decisions. The strength of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in J&K was considerably enhanced. Ajit Doval, the powerful national security advisor, is minutely supervising the state law and order situation. He stayed in Srinagar for several days and assessed the ground situation there. The present chiefs of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and Intelligence Bureau also stayed in the troubled state for several days and assessed the pulse of the state. R&AW chief Samant Kumar Goel would have assessed Pakistani reactions and its underhand plans to assist secessionists and terrorists. Revoking Article 370 has severely jolted Islamabad. Pakistan is the main perpetrator of terrorism in the state, and was assisting terrorists and separatist elements with the help of these defunct Articles.
The threat by separatists and state political leaders that the law and order situation within the state will become uncontrollable proved wrong and the extra precautions and well chalked out plans have given fruitful results. Slowly but steadily daily life in the state is returning to normal. On August 20, the authorities relaxed restrictions in 136 police stations out of a total 197 police stations in the state. There are a total of 111 police station areas in the Valley, out of which restrictions were relaxed in 50 police station areas. The barricades from Lal Chowk in Srinagar were also removed. Attendance in schools and government offices improved and services of more than 73,000 landline phones, out of a total of 99,000 landline phones, were restored. Traffic on the roads was also more or less normal. Most of the markets also functioned normally.
The incidents of stone-pelting were considerably reduced. According to reports there were about 200 stone-pelting incidents in the Valley while, in the rest of the state, it was less than 30 from August 5 to 22. The state, including the Valley, remains peaceful on all days except on Fridays. It appears that separatists are in control of a few mosques, hence, after the Friday prayers, more cases of stone pelting occur. Security forces have observed control although, during stone pelting, more than 50 CAPF personnel were injured and 25 government vehicles damaged. The number is much less compared to demonstrations and stone-pelting incidents after the killing of Burhan Wani, leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen, in 2016.
Pakistan and its supporters are trying to fan violence in the valley and spreading rumours about stone-pelting, demonstrations, violence, use of cluster bombs and firing by the security forces. Some people have criticised the curtailment of democratic rights, but they kept quiet when the Hurriyat announced shut downs on flimsy grounds.
Pakistan and the secessionists are propagating that the BJP government has revoked these articles with the ulterior motive of changing the demography of the state and aim to convert it into a Hindu majority state. Hence, Muslims all across the world must support Pakistan on the Kashmiri struggle and Muslims living in other parts of India should resort to demonstrations and disturb law and order situation in their areas. Pakistan will try to enhance terrorist activities not only in J&K but in all of India. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence may activate and instruct its sleeper cells to carry out terrorist activities in communally sensitive places so that communal riots erupt in the country.
Besides Pakistan, the separatists, leaders of mainstream political parties and several other persons who reaped immense benefits from Article 370 and 35A will not sit idle and will oppose the government with full force, once they are out of detention. The leaders of opposition parties are also worried that the ruling BJP is getting immense support all over India from this move. A 12-member multi-party delegation of opposition leaders went to Srinagar on August 24 to assess the situation on the ground. However, they were sent back from Srinagar airport. Now more than 20 days have elapsed and there has been no major untoward incident, but the security forces must remain vigilant as Pakistan and their cronies will try to disrupt the peace in the Valley.
Nevertheless, Indian security forces are capable of handling Pakistan-supported separatists and extremists. The silent majority of J&K wants peace. The revocation of these articles has been welcomed across India, including J&K.
(The writer is a Delhi-based strategic analyst)