The Territorial Army is not the regular Army so there is little reason to be alarmed over a soldier in Kashmir deserting his camp, taking his weaponry with him. There is, however, cause for concern if investigations establish that this was not a one-off incident and that militants have succeeded in their bid to compromise members of the “citizens’ army” ~ as they have done with the police.

The level of supervision in the TA might have to be brought on par with that of the regular force, particularly after men return from leave when they interact with “locals”, and hence are open to being misled, brain-washed or tempted. The officers already have their hands full, now they have the added responsibility of protecting their men from “sinister” influences.

The timing of the desertion of Sepoy Zahoor Thokar is significant, coming as it did on the eve of the anniversary of the killing of Burhan Wani. It confirms reports of militants using the occasion to fuel the passions that have never really died down over the past 12 months. A series of desertions/defections to their ranks would be just what the anti-national elements desire to boost their image.

Though there has been a stepping-up of “security”, there is every reason to apprehend a revival of the unrest, stone-pelting etc. The ongoing Amarnath Yatra would offer an easy target for militants determined to show that they retain their grip over the civilian populace. It may be premature to draw conclusions on what prompted the TA man to “jump ship”, yet the possibility of further breaking of ranks cannot be ignored.

Just because there have been massive responses to recruitment drives in the Valley does not mean any dilution of the decades-long resentment the Army has had to encounter there. Those “responses” are essentially a reflection of the economic woes of common folk.

The security forces, of late, appear to attempting to revive their “reaching out” to the people, but there is much ground to recover after the dilution of the Sadhbhavna campaign of yesteryear.

Apart from the political climate having been further polluted, the “battle for cyber-space” has assumed a new dimension ~ a dimension in which the “state” appears to be at the losing end.

Shutting down Internet services merely suppresses expression of animosity, actually causes ill-will to fester and erupt where it is unexpected.

Mehbooba Mufti has neither the goodwill nor the sagacity to come up with a breakthrough formula ~ and any efforts in that direction would be short-circuited by the BJP section of her coalition government, as well as New Delhi.

The BJP believes that attempting a political solution would be treason, but even with a bellicose Army Chief a military way-out seems unlikely.