The Indian security forces heaved a great sigh of relief after they successfully neutralised on August 1 the dreaded Lashkare-Toiba ( LeT) terrorist Abu Dujana and three of his associates in a fierce encounter at Hakirpura, near Pulwama, Kashmir.
Abu Dujana, carrying a bounty of Rs.15 lakh, was originally a resident of the Gilgit-Baltistan region and had been effecting severe devastation in targeting Indian security forces for the last several years. He had specially targeted the Indian army as he believed that the Army was singularly causing obstruction to the 'struggle' by the Kashmiris.
He had carried out as many as three dozen attacks on the army, the most notorious of these being the Udhampur strike which killed BSF personnel too and lowered the morale of those engaged in dealing with terrorism in Kashmir.
We are noticing numerous encounters in the recent past eliminating terrorists coming from across the border as also from within. There does not seem to be any let up in the offensive spree being relentlessly pursued by the security forces.
Purely from the operational point of view as also in dealing with terror incidents, this is a very welcome trend and the rhythm must not be broken. This is also imperative in light of NIA arrests of Hurriyat separatists and most importantly exposing them for their nefarious links with the Pakistani ISI and money laundering.
Large sections of Kashmiri youth are disenchanted with the exposed undesirable activities of the Hurriyat and their children enjoying affluence and luxury while Kashmiris in general are left to cope with huge suffering and abject poverty. In other words, the going is good, or so it seems, and in this backdrop, it would appear advisable to continue operations to cleanse the state of terrorists and their sympathisers.
Another silver lining vis-a-vis public opinion was visible at a recent (July 28-29) conclave 'Understanding Kashmir'. This conclave gave opportunity to Kashmiri youth to articulate their thoughts in a frank and forthright manner. Some of the speakers and their views merit mention here.
Insha Mir, one of the prime movers of the conclave felt that the Kashmir issue being beyond 'resolution' needed a Plan B. And to deal with the problem, Kashmiri youth should be gradually readied and mentally prepared to live with the ongoing conflict. Another view was aptly articulated by Syed Mujtaba Rizvi, the cultural entrepreneur of Kashmir. Rizvi is well known for his crusade against corruption and nepotism in the J&K establishment.
He was critical of the government shutting down internet facilities depriving Kashmiri youth from exploring opportunities for their future and livelihood. Significantly, Shazia Bakshi, gave vent to thoughts which cannot be ignored. She said that all Kashmiris' allegiance towards India should not be questioned.
She claimed herself to be an Indian first, then a Kashmiri and then a Muslim. She also disclosed having gone to Pakistan, she sang the Indian national anthem in the Jinnah hall in Karachi and still she and others are asked to prove their loyalty. Importantly, many felt at the conclave that Zakir Musa and Burhan Wani cannot be the role models of Kashmiris as they are identified with guns. Such statements must be encouraged. Speakers also felt that ongoing radicalisation was more political then religious.
This needs to be combated. They gave the example of Zakir Musa who got radicalised while studying in Chandigarh and not in Kashmir. Some of the perceptions heard and seen in the conclave are worthy of note by those in authority to bring youth to the mainstream, instead of leaving them to live in isolation.
In this context, it must also be stated that journalist Samir Yaseer felt that Kashmiris being a fearless lot should not contest abrogation of Article 370. He claimed they can live without it, subtly contradicting Mehbooba Mufti not to press for retaining Article 370.
Here, we see new views which need to be adequately capitalised to consolidate the gains. All said and done, it must be said that Indian security agencies are working in perfect tandem, a fresh trend which had not been noticed for some time.
Hunting down wanted terrorists like Abu Dujana was preceded by well-coordinated intelligence provided by military intelligence, RAW, IB, state intelligence and possibly by technical outfits. The state police is also upbeat with repeated successes and this must be acknowledged in good measure.
The Prime Minister would perhaps do well if he articulates his appreciation to security forces during his upcoming Independence Day speech.
A “shabaash” from no less than the country's PM would make a substantial difference and bring the morale of security forces to an all time high, encouraging them to keep the good work going in a bid to bring Kashmir back on the rails.
The challenge may look difficult but it is not impossible.
(The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and Senior Fellow with the India Police Foundation. The views are personal.)