There’s no evading the question being asked by Kashmiri terrorists in targeting families of police personnel
The abduction and subsequent release of 11 family members of Jammu and Kashmir State Police personnel by Islamist terrorists in the Valley after making them record Taliban-style warning videos will, when the history of this bloody, vicious, religious insurgency is written, be regarded as a turning point. India as a nation, and not just its state instrumentalities which are but a representation of our collective national will, needs to decide here and now whether it has the stomach for the fight to underline Jammu and Kashmir’s status as an integral part of the country and to ensure full support for the long overdue effort to integrate the State into the national Indic mainstream regardless of, while always respecting, the mode of worship of a majority of its residents. This meta-narrative is only to provide context. The real battle will have to be fought by precisely those targeted by the terrorists — brave policemen and policewomen, all local residents but, given social realities and the growing support for an Islamised Kashmir project in the Valley, not exclusively by them.
There is a difference between the earlier targeting of Armed Forces personnel when off-duty (Lt Ummer Fayyaz, Rifleman Aurangzeb) and more viciously the elimination of police personnel as part of a tactical ploy which began in 2016 when five policemen were killed in two separate attacks to the murder of an inspector and two constables this Eid and the killing last week of four policemen as they were getting their vehicle repaired, and the new tactic of targeting families. As many as 1,600 police personnel have laid down their lives since the Islamist insurgency in the Valley began in 1989-90 and brave local cops have always been aware that they were the prime terror targets. The targeting of their families, however, is a strategic shift in the insurgency which has acquired Islamic supremacist and racial overtones. And it is underlined by a virulent misogyny as seen in the Rifleman Aurangzeb and Major Leetul Gogoi who among other supposed crimes were also ‘guilty’ of consorting with local residents or ‘our women’, as the terrorists would have it, not to mention the opposition by those simpatico to the separatist cause to the abolition of Article 35A which is clearly discriminatory against the women of Jammu & Kashmir.
In 2016, the then Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani (later killed in an encounter with Indian Armed Forces) was forced to issue a semi-apologia after the cop killings saying though the victim cops were our ‘own people’ their actions had forced the ultras’ hand (‘compelled us to act against them’). Compare and contrast that, if you will, with the warning by HM commander Riyaz Naikoo’s who ordered the abduction of the cops’ family members last week — Our war is against India… Kashmir Police has chosen to become a victim of ‘Indian conspiracy’ and its frontline… we have tolerated a lot and tried to convince police to desist but in vain. From now on, whosoever becomes an obstacle in our struggle, his fate will that be of an enemy. All that’s left is for the ultras to do is pull out a couple of simpatico maulanas to issue fatwas declaring cops and their kin apostates to justify all manner of atrocities. The late KPS Gill’s tactics in Punjab when terrorists started targeting families of Punjab Police personnel were neither from the textbook nor would pass most human rights tests. But they worked. Let us hope that is not what is needed in Kashmir. All bets are off, though.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer