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Army tightening noose on anti-India forces, helping Centre in development push in Kashmir

Indian Army, with the strong backing of the Centre, is going aggressive against the anti-India forces operating in and around Kashmir. At the same time, it is swiftly implementing Government of India’s agenda in carrying out development push and weaning away the Valley’s youth, away from militancy, through education and jobs.

Kashmir has been on the boil since the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by the Army in July last year. Seventy-six people and two police personnel were killed during the five-month-long unrest following the killing of the terrorist.

Ever since the recent by-poll to Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, a fresh spurt violence broke out in the valley. There is a palpable tension in the valley with the separatist forces calling for a 2016-like protests. The Valley has witnessed a spurt in incidents of violence and terrorist attacks in the last couple of months. But the Army has been controlling the situation with an iron first.

“The tempo of our operations has been significantly higher than previous years and it will remain high in the coming months. Our approach is way more aggressive than before and has the backing of the force’s top hierarchy,” a senior Army officer was quoted as saying.

According to Defence experts, what has led to the aggressive approach of the Army in Kashmir is that the government’s strong backing to the Army’s operations in Kashmir.

A young Army officer – Major Leetul Gogoi – had used a Kashmiri protester named Farooq Dar as a human shield against the stone pelters in Budgam on April 9 while moving a convoy of election officials and ballot boxes to safety. Following this act, Major Gogoi was awarded by the Army. Army chief General Bipin Rawat has praised Major Gogoi saying that the dirty war has to be fought with innovative ways. The government has stood by the Indian Army on the incident at a time when the Army is coming under attack by a section of political class.

The government has given a free hand to the Army to take stern actions against those who are spreading terror and vitiating the atmosphere in the Valley. The Army has launched Operation Clean Up to flush South Kashmir of terrorists. About a dozen terrorists, including Burhan Wani’s successor Sabzar Bhat, were gunned down by the Army over the last two weeks. The Indian Army has released a list of 12 dreaded terrorists operating in the Kashmir Valley.

At the same time, the Army has been carrying out “punitive fire assaults” against Pakistani posts. “The encounters were a result of ‘relentless operations’ by security forces to defeat the desperate attempts by Pakistan and Pak-sponsored agents to spread terror in Kashmir”, an Army statement said.

The Army, on 26 May, avenged 1 May beheading of two soldiers by killing two men from Pakistan’s Border Action Team (BAT). BAT, a rogue division of Pakistani Army, is primarily tasked for dominating the LoC by carrying out disruptive actions. It basically works in tandem with Pakistani terrorists waiting to sneak into Indian territory. In a clean break from the past, the Indian Army tweeted:

The Indian Army, on 23 May, has released a rare video of heavy artillery blasting. This is a clear departure from the past also.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had expressed satisfaction over the “aggressive domination” and “readiness” of the troops along the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir. “The aggressive domination and readiness of troops for befitting response to any misadventure by enemy is very satisfying,” Jaitley said. He stated that the force was not only dominating the LoC but also applying pressure on terrorist cadre.

Amid all these, the Army is carrying forward the Centre’s focus on education, jobs and development in Kashmir valley.

The Army is running scores of schools in the civilian areas of the Valley. The schools are getting very good response from the young students.

Hundreds of Kashmiri youth appeared for the Army recruitment test in Kashmir, on 28 May, rejecting the bandh call given by the separatists and defying the threat call by the terrorists.

Continuing the Centre’s development push in the Valley, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 27 April took stock of the implementation of the Rs 80,000 crore development package announced by the Prime Minister for Jammu & Kashmir. The package was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November, 2015. So far, Rs 17,000 crore has been released to the state government by the Centre.

“The Home Ministry has a multi-pronged strategy which includes building of infrastructure and capacity and generation of employment opportunities coupled with firm handling of criminal activities,” Ashok Prasad, Union Home Ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying. The Centre is involving the Army for the successful implementation of the crucial development projects.

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Saswat Panigrahi
Political writer, policy observer.

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