William Shakespeare once said, “What’s in the name?” but looking into the changing nature of terrorism, we can answer the Shakespearean phrase. Though, as per the Government of India, there is a lull in the violence and increase in arrest on terror-related crimes, with the abrogation of Article 370 and failure of Pakistan to voice its Anti-India propaganda, a new transition is being witnessed in the nature of militancy where now the militant groups with the purported help of Pakistani agencies, principally ISI, are trying to demonize the outsiders and concocting propaganda showcasing the demand for seceding Kashmir as “secular Freedom struggle”.
WHY FAKE SECULARISATION?
With the abrogation of article 370 and execution of several Pakistani-sponsored Kashmiri militant groups, new outfits emerged with names and logos having secular and non-jihadist outlooks. The nomenclature is English as opposed to Arabic, with logos portraying symbols of the independence struggle. For instance, some new militant groups are named Kashmir Tigers and The Resistance Force (TRF), giving them a hideous identity and secular outlook as opposed to Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Among others, TRF is the most dreadful outfit and has claimed the killing of civilians and other security personnel recently. In its “strategy note”, TRF has threatened locals and non-locals who support outsiders, suggesting that their agenda is to restrain the integration of Kashmir into mainstream India as envisaged by the Union.
Fake secularization has been in vogue post abrogation to attract more Kashmiris, especially the youth, who are disgruntled by the high-handedness of the establishment. The plausible reason to portray themselves as secular as seen from their statements is to send a message to the world that the freedom for Kashmir is not jihad but the struggle for independence. It would, in turn, help them avoid coming under the radar of western nations and international organizations, thus wielding more power to attack the people.
Credits: Economic Times
LIKE, SHARE, COMMENT TERRORISM
With the advent of social media among the masses through cheap and widespread internet, we have witnessed militant groups posting photos on social media, particularly Facebook, showcasing the facade of being a freedom fighter. It was popularized by a group of young militants led by Burhan Wani, also known as the “Burhan Wani Model”, to attract and recruit youth from social media platforms.
Further, India witnessed the highest number of internet shutdowns in the world in 2020, especially in Kashmir post abrogation, causing widespread resentment among the masses where the Covid-19 further broke the backbone of the J&K economy. However, looking into the effectiveness of the internet shutdown, it has been minimal as now militants are connecting through localized networks and Over Ground Workers (OWG) who are disguised as civilians, also known as hybrid militants, to plan attacks and violent protests, which are cheaper and hard to track by the Indian agencies. Further, they are using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to communicate with other militants, thus bypassing the government measures. Therefore, all these factors question the effectiveness of government control, which certainly causes severe inconveniences to ordinary citizens.
ATTACK ON OUTSIDERS
In recent months, the attacks on outsiders, minorities and domiciled individuals by new militant outfits have soared. As border security has tightened, it became difficult to smuggle weapons and infiltrate men beyond the borders. Also, with the looming sanctions on Pakistan, terror financing has significantly reduced, causing militants to engage in soft killings as it is cheaper and less risky. For instance, in October 2021, two Kashmiri pandits and several non-locals were shot down by The Resistance Force (TRF). Its official statement declares that outsiders are encroaching upon the land of Kashmiris as the government is concocting a demographic change in the region through organizations like RSS and flourishing the core ideology of Hindutva. They justified their attack to discourage the outsiders and those who help them set up industries and settle there. However, their main agenda has not changed and as our Army Chief General MM Naravne said, the TRF should be called nothing but “Terror Revival Front”.
THE PAKISTAN DILEMMA
The international pressure on Pakistan by nations and international organizations is one reason it is finding new ways to heighten tensions in Kashmir. Pakistan’s economy is ravaging and being in the grey list of FATF is a cherry on the top, as it becomes difficult to ask for foreign funding from international institutions like the IMF. Further, being on the verge of getting into the elite countries of the Black List, Pakistan has to implement the 27-point action plan to avoid it. Moreover, Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan and the fact that many UN-designated terrorists reside there have put additional pressure on Islamabad. Therefore, in order to cover up and re-strategize its terror outsourcing, it has plotted a new propaganda design by making these outfits look more secular in their outlook. It would help Pakistan to maintain a distance and call these new outfits “indigenous” and “homegrown” to avoid any connection with them, thus evading international pressure.
CHALLENGES BEFORE THE GOVERNMENT
There is an immense challenge before the government when we look into the feeble situation in Kashmir. In order to maintain long-term peace, the government has to fulfil its agenda of opening Jammu and Kashmir as soon as possible along with Delimitation and state elections which are now struck up for almost three years, a vital reason for frustrations among masses along with frequent internet shutdowns and army’s high handedness. However, The government and the army has taken into consideration the new development in the region and as per their reactions, we can conclude that this new secular terrorism is just an old wine in a new bottle.
The government has also taken significant steps to revamp the economy of J&K. For instance, India and UAE have inked six agreements to build infrastructure and promote tourism across the region and has received 2.5 billion USD of investments since 2020. The union territory is also going to have four national highways worth Rs 3,612 crores, thus giving a further boost to connectivity with other states and employment opportunities. Moreover, the government has launched schemes such as USTTAD, Udaan and Nai Manzil for skill enhancement, employment generation and education scholarships.
However, the government has still failed on several frontiers to drive down the resentment among the people. As confirmed by the classified government data, the lull in violence can be deceptive and may lead militants to come up with new strategies, thus thwarting the sovereignty of India with more deep wounds. These militant outfits can channelize the weak Kashmir polity and aggression of youth to attract more fiduciaries to support their agendas. These new trends are signaling the changed mindset of militants, which has the potential to cause long-term ramifications for the peace in the whole Jammu and Kashmir region.
Therefore, the government must look into all factors and bring up more programmes that support the lives of common people, as this seems the only way to usher in long-term peace in the region.
BY NAYAN CHANDRA MISHRA TEAM GEOSTRATA Punanayan@gmail.com