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Opinion
Kashmir's scenery makes its way to the 'hinterland'
By Firdaus Ahmed
The head of India's land warfare think tank has this to say in his essay in the flagship product of the army funded center: 'The proxy war is one method of tying down the Indian Army, and it should be expected during any war, that this strategy will be escalated to choke the lines of communication and destabilise the hinterland (http://www.claws.in/images/journals_doc/1782942649_1031898166_BalrajNagal.pdf).'

It is easy to see this in relation to Kashmir. The restive population would possibly hold-up Indian military convoys, enroute to battle by sporadic bouts of stone throwing. Even if not orchestrated by Pakistan, this can be inferred from the daily prime time display of their levels of alienation from India and from teenage girls joining the fray.

While this explanation caters for the reference to 'lines of communication' falling in J&K, where about one third of the army is deployed, one wonders what is the reference to 'destabilise the hinterland'? A little further in the article, a clue appears: 'The religious colour given to the Mujahideen war in Afghanistan is being replicated in India, in the hope that Indian Muslims will get radicalised, causing communal disharmony.'

Presumably, this explains the source of possible instability in the 'hinterland'. Clearly, into the proxy war sink - in which the J&K problem has languished for the past two decades - the security predicament of India's largest minority - its Muslims - is now being likewise sunk.

The think tank honcho explicates further ahead in the article in question the role such a proverbial fifth column could play in hostilities. He calls for engineering a Tibetan uprising in relation to the circumstance of hostilities with China: 'The Tibetan people must be integrated into the overall plan to impose delay and attrition on forces inducted after the commencement of a war. The Tibetan resistance must also be used for deep targeting and intelligence… The covert and hybrid war now in vogue, remains well suited to the TAR where Tibetan nationalism has been suppressed, and has been simmering for decades.'

He perhaps visualizes this is the role Pakistan's ISI is setting up India's Muslims to play and some of India's Muslims might oblige. This is not an individual opinion. It appears to be collectively held in the military. Here is some anecdotal evidence.

This author lives in a Muslim majority locality in a city with a large Muslim population. In the locality is situated a military garrison. As with other military garrisons, it has been in uncomfortable cheek by jowl with its surroundings. This was unremarkable earlier, when cities were relatively laid back. With cities turning dynamic, if not turbulent, and willy-nilly strangling the green military oasis in their midst, the garrison over time acquired a wall, topped up as is the fashion these days not only with barbed wire but concertina coil. Thereafter, as military budgets expanded, it gave itself guard towers two-storey high, to peer over the walls at every bend. Lately, it has set up at every hundred meters or so atop its boundary wall a set of sandbags, reminiscent of bunkers in J&K.

Whereas I could explain away the wall as a natural response to the bustle around it, the guard towers appeared to be rather a pointed comment on what the garrison thought of its unruly and boisterous neighbours. However, I cannot but notice that there is more to it than mere military irritation. The guard towers acquired sentries with rifles. Some now have light machine guns. There is a bonafide bunker at the garrison's gates that can do credit to any Srinagar street.

But what is a Muslim watching this garrison's transformation to make of the trench and bunker like toppings to the wall all along its length? Do the inmates of this garrison believe that they would be assaulted and that they might need to repel an assault in the midst of a city outside of J&K and India's north east? Why is the main gate so configured as to ward-off a fidayeen attack? Is the Muslim majority locality such an eyesore to this garrison? Would it hide jihadists who might wish to do a repeat of Kalu Chak? Does it hide fifth columnists who might want to interdict our brave soldiers setting off to a war with a Cold Start?

One can imagine and excuse those holed up in the garrison to put in ear plugs and swear under their breath (or out loud as people are wont to these days) as the loud speakers in the seven mosques in the locality go off one by one. But do they also really think that those attending those prayers can potentially scale the walls of the garrison to interdict troops on their way off to some borderland battlefield in the next war?

What this suggests is that there is a considerable buy-in into the canard of susceptibility of Muslims to subversion - either by religious extremism or by our friendly neighborhood bogeyman. This has been a case long in the making.

Every now and again there are news reports of some or other techie caught finding his way to Syria. The police in a southern state was exposed to be running jihadists websites so as to trap potential Muslim terrorists who stopped by too often or lingered at the webpage too long. In Bhopal, a BJP ruled state, eight under trials were shot in cold blood. The latest news report had some jihad inclined Indian Muslims done to death by the Mother of All Bombs in the caves of Nangarhar. (There is no talk on the environmental crime perpetrated in the use of a bomb on one of natures' wonders, no less blatant a crime than that of the Taliban knocking down the Bamiyan statues or ISIS doing away with Palmyra).

The people who have bought into this either don't know or don't want to know or, worse, don't care to know, that there have been a spate of Muslims being let off by courts for want of evidence in cases of bombings attributed to jihadists. They evince no knowledge of the exposé of the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association of the police stories on some celebrated terrorism related cases as fabrications and figment of imagination. They are unaware of the many Muslims remain in prison with cases pending, even in cases so stark as the Malegaon case, where extremist Hindus have been implicated for the bombings. They are perhaps happy that some courts are also letting off Hindu perpetrators for planting bombs in a 'bomb for bomb' duet with supposedly Muslim perpetrated terrorism mid-last decade.

Whereas such a distorted worldview can be understood of ordinary people who are lied-to much of the time by mass media and subverted authority figures, how can institutions subscribing to this - such as our esteemed, secular and apolitical army - be explained away? Is it so apolitical as to be a political innocent or, worse, ignoramus?

Retrospect makes it easy to see what has been engineered in India over the past decade and half. A careful hearing to a speech by the current day national security adviser at a nondescript locale back in 2010 - unbelievably on Universal Brotherhood Day - provides some clues (http://vakmumbai.blogspot.com/; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apEIuFEfvV0). The intelligence czar, though retired, lets on that there is a war on, with jihadists out to subjugate and convert India. (Thus, 'universal brotherhood' is baloney!) The terrorism India was subject to all through the century's first decade made this believable. To him, (Muslim) invaders came to India because it was 'weak' (and not because geography did not make it sensible for them to wonder off into the surrounding deserts on the three other sides). Now it needs to be 'strong' and under a 'leader' with a 'vision'. It is to his credit - and that of an ally the RSS - India has finally got there.

While getting all the way to Delhi, it made political sense to lampoon Rahul Gandhi. Were he to say that the greater threat to India is from saffronites, it would not be believed. But Mr. Gandhi got it spot on in his conversation leaked at wikileaks. Now, if only the institutions of state provide the necessary checks and balances rather than buy-in into a strategic discourse contrived to capture and perpetuate a hold over power, India can yet be rescued.


News Updated at : Tuesday, May 9, 2017
 
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