What should be done to the internal enemies residing in Kashmir? We have been too soft on them, at the nation’s cost. It’s time this changes, not symbolically but drastically.
The Pulwama terror strike has angered the country and there are demands for befitting retribution, including the military. But there are some pacifists who, even now, favor a calmer approach — which essentially means that India should not take military action but merely depend on diplomatic efforts to counter Pakistan. Shockingly, there are also those who advocate, even in the backdrop of the dastardly attack, a scaling down of military action within Kashmir too. In this context, it would be informative to recall what Jawaharlal Nehru had said in a letter to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in June 1948. Although a pacifist, Nehru had referred to the great role the Indian Armed Forces had been playing in the region and the need for them to triumph over the enemy.
Today, there are elements in Kashmir who sing Pakistan’s tune, and they are being utilized by the enemy across the border. And such people are numerically more in number than those in the entire country put together.
The then Prime Minister had said: “ My dear Vallabhbhai — We fight to win and break the enemy. They fight to harass and annoy and cause us injury.” He also referred to the State forces in a not good light. And although his remark was prompted by his dislike for Maharaja Hari Singh who was the constitutional head then, it reflected on the necessity of the Army to keep pushing forcefully. He stated, “The only way to pull them (State forces) up is for the Indian Army to take complete control over these forces.”
The situation today is as bad. The Indian Army is being vilified by vested interests in Kashmir valley. It is not supposed to retaliate with the force that is needed when faced with mobs which hamper anti-terror operations. It is not supposed to fully implement security measures for fear that they would displease the Kashmiris there. One of the reasons for the Pulwama suicidal incident, in which about 40 Indian soldiers lost their lives, was that a private vehicle which had come into the convoy of CRPF personnel was not intercepted earlier. The interception of private vehicles in such cases had been discontinued when the Mehbooba Mufti government was in power, on the pretext that such checks anger the common citizens.
Nehru had squarely laid the blame for the grim situation in Kashmir at the Maharaja’s doorstep. But he was not willing to acknowledge the mischief that Sheikh Abdullah had been resorting to, with a view to winning his petty battle with the Maharaja. Sheikh Abdullah’s politics was significantly responsible for the mess in the valley. In a letter that Sardar Patel wrote to Nehru, the former came down hard on the Sheikh’s decision to hold a media briefing to vent his anger against the Maharaja. The Sardar told Nehru that it was “undignified and constitutionally improper for a Prime Minister (a title which Sheikh Abdullah held then of the State) to attack the constitutional head of his administration, knowing fully well that the latter is not in a position to defend himself or to retaliate.” Patel was also angered by Sheikh Abdullah’s insinuation that the Maharaja was exploiting his “strong friends” in India or that “he could buy friends”.
Yet another point that Sardar Patel made in that same letter is interesting, given the present context. “ Sheikh Sahib has also referred to certain people in India who believe in surrendering Kashmir to Pakistan. I should like to be enlightened who they are. As far as my information goes, there are many more of such people in Jammu and Kashmir State than in the whole of India put together.” Today, there are elements in Kashmir who sing Pakistan’s tune, and they are being utilized by the enemy across the border. And such people are numerically more in number than those in the entire country put together.
Patel was blunt in his assessment of the Sheikh’s conduct. He wrote to him: “Either the difficulties which you experience in India are formidable or they are not. If they are formidable, we have the right to be told what they are before you take the public into confidence. If they are not, they are hardly worthy of public notice.” Now, recall the statements that are frequently made today by leaders of mainstream regional parties that have a base in Kashmir — Kashmiris are unhappy with the Indian state; if India does not mend its ways, Kashmir could go to Pakistan; the Indian forces are killing innocent Kashmiris, etc.
Nehru’s blunders on Kashmir have been well recorded, but it was his unstinted support to Sheikh Abdullah — who had begun to talk of an ‘independent Kashmir’ after initially being a strong votary of its ‘accession’ to India, that encouraged the latter to play his politics which contributed to the worsening situation; later, the PDP led first by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and later by Mehboob Mufti, followed suit.
As things stand today, Pakistan can be, and possibly will be, adequately taken care of. The question is: What should be done to the internal enemies residing in Kashmir? We have been too soft on them, at the nation’s cost. It’s time this changes, not symbolically but drastically.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.