Don’t overlook negative signals from Kashmir

K B Jandial
It is not the first time to hear from the responsible persons in the Govt and the Security Forces that Pakistan sponsored terrorism is on its “last leg” and the frequently targeting security forces is basically “signs of desperation”. Unfortunately, the ground reports from the Valley do not subscribe to this ‘heartening’ perception. Frequent encounters and heavy causality of security forces do not paint a happy situation, positive analysis of Govt security experts notwithstanding.
Elimination of about 90 militants this year, 22 in just two weeks; neutralizing the longest surviving member of Burhan Wani’s gang & HM commander Riyaz Naikoo; killing of nine HM’s militants in Reban, Shopian in just 24 hours and of JeM’s IED expert of Multan Pakistan and mastermind of abortive suicide car bomb blast in Pulwama and chief commanders of new or old terrorist outfits is, of course, a testimony of security forces’ upper hand. But the nation is saddened every time the mortal remains of martyrs wrapped in Tricolor reach their native places. More shocking are the occasions when the martyrs are senior army officers. Increasing loss of brave hearts, increased intensity of encounters, easy shelter by residents to militants and induction of more and more local and terrorists from across the LoC do not augur well for “last leg” situation.

Straight Talk

Thirty long years have passed since terrorism was inducted in J&K by Pakistan and since then, there had been many ups and downs in this unending proxy war while the entire world helplessly watched it, perhaps because Pakistan is a strategic n-armed Islamic nation. Except occasional condemnations, the world is silently watching Pak induced terror strikes in Kashmir, the same way as it had mutely seen Pakistan abetted invaders playing havoc in north Kashmir and illegally occupied two third of its territory in 1947 amidst accession with India by the Maharaja Hari Singh, supported by the most popular leader of Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah. What had the UNO done at that time; the aggressor was brought at par with the victim nation and passed a resolution of plebiscite which was not executed as Pakistan, not confident of Kashmir’s support then, didn’t fulfill its obligations and avoided plebiscite.
Those who predict breaking of militancy’s ‘backbone’ or wiping it ‘soon’ might be correct in their judgment but regrettably, it is not seen on the ground. Since Pakistan is an abettor of Kashmir terrorism and now, it has strong backing of China, its end is directly linked with Pakistan’s own existence, how strongly India may corner it for its direct involvement in terror funding at international forum like FATF or elsewhere. We in J&K had to suffer for many more years for the follies of our spineless leaders of the past and mishandling of Kashmir situation frequently keeping Kashmir a fertile ground for Pakistan to keep testing its bloodletting strategies.
Not much is being reported in the media about the mood of the people and undercurrents in Kashmir that is claimed to be calm. Most of the encounters take place in inhabited areas where the militants had taken easy shelter or tactical cover for their ‘guerrilla’ warfare and in the process causing collateral damage to the several adjoining houses leading to displacement of the families. For whatever reasons, the NGOs or the civil society are not coming forward for the shelter-less families. The local Mosques have stepped in for rendering relief to shelter-less families by raising local donations running in to crores of rupees. So, the local mosque committees have now filled the social vacuum to help people. Despite loss of property, sheltering militants has not ended.
With educational institutions closed for nearly 10 months, firstly as a precautionary measure following abrogation of article 370 and now due to scare of pandemic Covid-19, youth of Kashmir are turning to YouTube for their entertainment despite slow speed 2G internet in whole of UT. Turkish historical fiction and adventure television serial, Dirili?: Ertugrul (Resurrection: Ertugrul) has now caught the imagination of Kashmiri youth. Launched on TRT 1 channel in Turkey on 10th December, 2014, this Islamic serial was run till 2019 with150 episodes. The objective of this serial was “to strengthen the nationhood sentiment of Turkish people by teaching them how the Turkish state came into existence which was achieved through a combination of history and quality entertainment.”
While this serial has been received well in Muslim world, several Arab countries have banned the show and ‘fatwas’ issued against it. On February 10, 2020, Dirili?: Ertu?rul was banned in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and targeted Turkey’s President Erdogan, for trying “restore Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and sovereignty over the Arab countries that had previously been under Ottoman Rule”.
But Pakistan PM Imran Khan has got the Turkish serial dubbed into Urdu and telecast It on PTV, first episode was aired on first Ramzan (April 24, 2020). The PTV claimed that this serial on its YouTube channel had acquired a record breaking viewership of about 140 million.
In Kashmir too, it is a craze with the youth and some activists promoting its viewing saying that every youth must see it to get inspiration from it. Extremely thrilling & exciting script with very powerful visuals, it is increasing capturing the imagination of youth in Kashmir. Ertugrul is the new hero of Kashmiri youth and even new born is named after him.
According to a Turkish legend, Ertugrul, son of Suleyman Shah, leader of Kavi tribe of Oghuz Turks fled from the western Central Asia to Anatolia to escape the conquest of Mongols. He and his followers entered into the service of the Sultanate of Rum and by his fighting skills he led the tribe to triumph over the enemies within and outside. This set off chain of events that ultimately culminated in to establishment of Ottoman Empire by his son Osman. The serial sought to convey a powerful message to keep fighting till you achieve the goal with undaunting faith in Allah.
The episodes on PTV You Tube are of 8 to 12 minutes each and the presenter claims that after seeing these serials many have converted to Islam. The criticism of the serial world over is that it promotes fundamental Islam and depicts non-Muslims in negative manner besides lack of historical accuracy. A friend explained the growing influence of “Resurrection: Ertugrul” saying, “If the social syllabus in the 1990s induced Arabic influences in Kashmir, it’s the cultural connect with Turkey today”.
This can be a dangerous phase with more local youth romanticizing terrorism, if not handled effectively. These disturbing signals portend a new trend in Kashmir with youth resurrecting Ertugrul in militancy.
P.S. Brutal killing of Sarpanch of Lokbhawan Panchayat of Anantnag Ajay Bharti on 8th June by terrorists too indicates vulnerability of pro Indians and ground situation in Kashmir.