Of terrorism, protests and politics

Harsha Kakar
Is the present trend of terrorism in the valley and protests across the country pushing religion versus religion,breaking the secular fabric of the nation? Are those backing protests doing it to defend the national constitution or seeking regaining political space, ignoring the well-being of the country? Is there a need for the national leadership to be concerned with the manner these protests are being conducted? With increased radicalization on display, are these security concerns for the long term? These are questions that we need to consider at present.
Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is evidently being fuelled by Pak. All terrorists inducted are mentally drilled with the concept of Jihad and freeing the region from clutches of a Hindu majority nation. Jammu and Kashmir politicians and separatists fuelled public anger against article 370 claiming that its abrogation would lead to mass migration and changed demography leaving the present Muslim community as minorities in their own region.
Pak has ulterior motives for supporting terrorism in the valley. The twisting of Pak history,convincing its populace that the nation is incomplete without Kashmir, losses in every war against India and failure in the international arena have forced Pak to resort to terrorism to regain the upper hand in Kashmir. They induct low paid, unemployed drug addicts as jihadi’s to instil fear into the local population.
To support local politicians and separatists, Pak uses social media to push their agenda of a Hindu dominated India controlling a Muslim dominated region. They adopt fake narratives seeking to enhance public anger against the state. By their action, Kashmiri youth are radicalized on religious grounds.
India imposed restrictions on communication networks which curbed Pak’s attempts of spreading fake narratives, leading to desperation within their leadership. It was unwilling to accept that the region has remained peaceful, hence began terming Kashmir as an open prison. The recent visit to Kashmir by a delegation comprising select envoys and the relative calm prevailing in the region is unacceptable to Pak and some Indian politicians.
FewIndian politicians have challenged the Government’s action of blocking communication networks and approached the apex court for removing all restrictions. Instead of backing security forces efforts at ensuring peace, they accuse the government of subduing human rights, specifically in a minority dominated Kashmir. Thankfully, the apex court left the final decision of lifting internet restrictions on the Government, aware that security of life has greater value than open availability of information.
The recent series of protests to counter the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) is another example where the nation is being split on religious grounds. Initially violent protests commenced at select educational institutions, which remain the gateway to politics. Counter attacks by groups supporting the government decision added to violence levels. Hard police response was criticised. Protest organizers realized violence may not give desired resultsat the national and international levels, hence changed their strategy.
The current peaceful and silent protests are aimed at conveying that the Government’s decision is biased to specific religions. The nature of protests, led by women in traditional religious attire, carrying national flags, ensures that police is restrained from acting forcefully. They employ children to pass radicalized comments, indicating how low we are willing to fall. These protests are well-planned and orchestrated to convey a message to the international community against the country.
Chants by protestors challenge not just CAA, but the Indian constitution and its secular fabric. They accuse every government agency for being anti-religious, including the most secular and apolitical, armed forces. The sit-down protests by women, which began in Delhi have now begun springing up in different parts of the country, all with similar intentions of projecting an atmosphere of religion versus religion. For a nation, which has struggled to merge its population,this is a retrograde step.
Few protestors are aware of the reality of CAA, yet protest. There are reports that protestors are paid to attend, rather than truly believing in the cause. Dress regulations, meals at protest sites and reports of payment are indicative of the same. These are fuelled by write-ups in the international press by Indian journalists projecting an anti-secular and anti-constitutional stance of the current Government.This has resulted in criticism by international institutions, biased by such writeups.
Most political parties, opposing the Government have backed these protests. There are regular reports of their representatives attending protests, supporting protestors and on occasions even funding them. Political parties seem to ignore national unity for gaining a few votes and embarrassing the current national leadership. At some stage in the future, the Government would be compelled to act against these silent protests. It is this moment that those seeking to lower the image of the nation and the government are waiting for. The organizers are aware that these protests impact lives of innocent residents of the area, however, continue fuelling it hoping for a strong Government reaction. Any violence at the site, even if fuelled by anti-national elements, would only add to security concerns and further divide the country.
If the Apex Court has been approached, then its decision would have to be accepted as final. In fact, as the hearing has commenced, the protests should have died down. On ground the situation is the opposite. This further fuels the logic that these are organized, orchestrated and financially supported by those seeking to lower the image of the government and the nation.
Internationally, the Government’s actions are being criticised by few countries and organizations misled by reports in the international media by Indian journalists. Pakistan, which has been backing terrorism in Kashmir, has been the most vocal. Both terrorism and the current ongoing protests challenging CAA seek to divide the population on religious lines. While Pak’s hands may not be directly behind the protests, but those who support and fund themwould be playing into their hands.The national leadership needs to view these protests and increased radicalization of society from a security perspective, rather than ignoring them and letting them simmer.