In occupied Kashmir, for the first time in years, the Indian Army, police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have admitted that India is losing the war in the territory.
The Indian army’s top Commander in the Northern Command, in a surprisingly candid admission, told a US-based news agency that the Indian army had failed to win ‘hearts and minds’ of the Kashmiri people despite running the so-called Operation Sadbhavna (operation goodwill) in the territory for more than a decade.
The situation in occupied Kashmir has changed considerably in recent years. India is not ready to solve the issue according to the UN Resolutions. On the other hand, Kashmiris want freedom at any cost. The movement has been transferred very successfully to the new generation, and this new generation is highly enthusiastic and optimistic about future outcomes. They are more than willing to sacrifice anything to oust India from the Kashmiri territory. It seems that every Kashmiri is a freedom fighter now. Funeral processions of martyrs attract a sea of people including women and children, chanting slogans in favor of freedom fighters, the Mujahideen, and against Indian army occupation. Pakistani flags are flown on a regular basis on the roads and on buildings in Kashmir.
Civil uprising and Indian brutality in the region has changed the political atmosphere altogether. Now the youth is taking up arms against the Indian army. The surprising thing is that most of these people are young and very well-educated. They, however, enjoy huge support from the public and are attracting more and more youth to join them.
Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the young freedom fighter, was the hero of Kashmiri youth. This individual used to post his pictures and videos on social media, inviting the Kashmiri youth to join Jihad. And unsurprisingly, he got innumerable comments in his support.
One more thing has become a common practice in Kashmir; whenever there is a gun battle between the freedom fighters and the Indian army, civilians gather at the encounter site in large numbers and chant slogans in favor of the Mujahideen. There have been many cases where Kashmiri masses have tried to create a situation for the Mujahideen to escape by hurling stones at the Indian army. There are videos depicting such scenes, especially during the famous 3-day attack on a CRPF building in Pampore, near Srinagar, on February 21, 2016.
In another incident, Indian soldiers prepared to lay siege on a cluster of houses, where 3 Mujahideen were hiding. The Indian army was welcomed by a barrage of rocks and bricks from hundreds of villagers, demanding they go away. The Mujahideen also began firing, drawing the soldiers into a battle on two fronts, VOA reported.
In November last year, regarding a fight between Mujahideen and the Indian army that lasted 27 days, in Manigah forests, the General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Indian Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps, stated that the militants were receiving supplies from the locals in the area.
This growing and open participation of Kashmiris in Jihad is the main problem for the Indian establishment now. The strength of the movement can be judged by the words of the President of the Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Mian Abdul Qayoom, who recently indicated his support for Jihad, saying, “We can also use the gun as a last resort, and it is no offence under the UN Charter.”
This support of Jihad is considered to be the outcome of the martyrdom of hundreds of youths in various protests. In 2015 alone, 634 people, of whom 231 were students and 17 were minors, were arrested for anti-India demonstrations in Kashmir. Repeated detention of massively popular Kashmiri leaders like Musarrat Aalam, Shabbir Shah, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and most importantly, Syed Ali Geelani, has further boosted the enthusiasm.
The Indian PM, Narendra Modi is trying his level best to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiris by showering dollars on them, but it is all in vain. Last year, in November, PM Modi visited Kashmir and announced a 12 billion dollar budget for Kashmir in a public seminar. Gohar Nazir Dar, a 22-year-old youth was martyred after Modi’s visit. In response to this, the Kashmiris protested for days. The number of protestors outnumbered the audience assembling where he was going to deliver his speech.
According to Indian intelligence agencies, only 200 Mujahideen are present in the region to fight with 0.85 million soldiers in the valley. The problem for India is the open and full support of the public for these handful of Mujahideen.
General D.S. Hooda was quoted as having said that the Indian Army was not comfortable conducting anti-militancy operations as the crowds favoring the Mujahideen turnout in huge numbers. Hooda says, “It’s a big problem, a challenge for us to conduct anti-militant operations now.” He noted that armed soldiers had little hope of competing with the militants for public sympathy.
The General also admitted that the growing public support for Mujahideen had not only hit the Indian army’s intelligence capabilities, but it had also hit their operational capacity as people had started interfering during ongoing encounters in a bid to give the Mujahideen a chance to escape.
“Frankly speaking, I’m not comfortable with anymore conducting operations if large crowds are around,” Hooda said. “Militarily, there’s not much more to do than we have already done. We are losing the battle for a narrative.”
The top General’s view was also seconded by the paramilitary CRPF that assists the police in law and order and operations against Mujahideen. “During an average counter-insurgency operation, general law and order has become more important to tackle in contrast to the actual operation itself. It’s a matter of serious concern,” IG Operations CRPF, Nalin Prabhat, said.
During a media interview, a senior police officer said, “South Kashmir seems like a liberated zone and I am not joking. Militants can shoot and flee at will. There is really nothing we can do other than watch them. The militants can only do this because they know they have public support. We are sitting ducks.”
Media reports quoting police sources said that policemen had, for the first time since 2010, begun to hide their identity and profession in order to avoid being attacked.
In short, the Kashmiris have overcome their fear of the Indian Army, and everybody now says, it’s do or die.