Demonstrators hurl stones and shout slogans during a protest in Srinagar on May 27, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Danish Ismail
Demonstrators hurl stones and shout slogans during a protest in Srinagar on May 27, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Danish Ismail

There has been a sharp deterioration in the security situation in conflict-torn Kashmir.

On May 27, Sabzar Bhat, a comrade of the deceased Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani, was shot dead by the security forces.

The next in the chain of command established by Wani, Saddam Padder, 32, from Shopian, has taken up arms against the state and may face a similar fate.

Since the killing of Wani on July 8, 2016, Kashmir has been on fire. Hundreds of protesting young men and women have been “neutralized,” blinded by pellet gunfire or otherwise grievously injured in military, paramilitary or police actions in the continuing resistance against Indian rule in Kashmir.

“Hindu” India is making the fullest use of its military or paramilitary prowess in putting down the Kashmiri protest movement, which has become stronger since Wani’s death. Stones have been the main weapon used by the young men who have unflinchingly faced the sophisticated weaponry used by the Indian armed forces.

On May 27, the Indian Army chief, General Bipin Rawan, said he wished the stone throwers had been fully armed like the Indian Army so that he could have dealt with them in a “proper” manner.

On May 11, 2017, an independent citizens’ group of 25 people issued a detailed report calling for remedial action, after visiting all 10 districts and painstakingly documenting official complicity in serious human rights violations against innocent people in the Kashmir Valley. The report, released at a public function in New Delhi, was ignored by the mainstream media.

Similar reports earlier by Delhi-based mainstream intellectuals failed to focus on human rights violations in the Valley and only called for dialogue to restore peace.

On May 22, in a deplorable display of Hindu militarism, Major Nitin Gogoi tied Farooq Ahmad Dar,  a Muslim young man, to the hood of his armoured vehicle and used him as a human shield against stone throwers. The”‘illegal and inhuman” act by the major was defended by Rawat and some leading politicians. The army chief went to the extreme of awarding Gogoi a certificate of commendation for his “innovative counterinsurgency response” in a conflict situation. The major’s action was clearly contrary to the Indian Army’s standard operating procedure as well as other rules, principles and regulations, as stated by Lt General HS Panag and others. A court of inquiry was established to look into the matter,  which sparked a public uproar.

On May 29, rights groups and others criticized Rawat for awarding a commendation certificate to Gogoi despite the fact that a court of inquiry was examining the major’s action. Rawat argued that the major’s action would improve the morale of his men. Some observers noted the similarity of the army chief’s language in defence of the major’s action to that of the British general who defended his killing of innocent people in Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab in 1919.

Amarjit Singh Dulat, a senior intelligence officer who served as an adviser on Kashmir to former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (2001-4), has drawn attention to the “gross lack of application of mind” by the Narendra Modi government in dealing with the Kashmir issue, which has had “catastrophic social, political and security consequences.”

Dulat’s views, shared by others in the security apparatus, have been ignored by the ruling establishment. Dulat has said that “the alienation and anger of the youth in Kashmir is at its peak.”

Rajnath Singh, the Union home minister, is said to share these views but is unable to influence the “larger political leadership” (presumably meaning the prime minister and his coterie).

Dulat said the Kashmir dialogue proocess has been “practically destroyed by the central government.”

The political and military line on Kashmir is said to be the outcome of the “Doval Doctrine,” named after the national security adviser, Ajit Kumar Doval.

Doval advocates forceful use of military power to alter the “existing balance of political power” in Kashmir

Doval advocates forceful use of military power to alter the “existing balance of political power” in Kashmir. He further holds that the “ultimate justice lies with the one who is strong.” He wants to alter the perception of India as a weak nation of “Brahmins and Banias” and questions the assumption of the Kashmiri separatists that “international opinion was in their favour.”

This policy is supported by the influential Ram Madhav, the point man on Kashmir in the Modi government, who has a background in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ruling BJP’s ideological guru.

The Doval Doctrine closely resembles the doctrine of Hindu militarism expounded by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar  (1883-1966), the chief ideologue of Hindutva, the guiding philosophical framework of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS.

Savarkar was influenced by the Italian thinker Guiseppe Mazzini. As a true disciple of the Italian nationalist, Savarkar made “Hindu nationalism” an ideology of hate and violent revenge. Violence for Savarkar was a form of emancipation and he built a lurid narrative of Muslims humiliating Hindus. He deployed his readings in the Italian to write Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? (1928), a book that mirrors the ideology of modern Hindu nationalism.

Savarkar told his followers to “Hinduize all politics and Militarize Hindudom.” To achieve these aims, he identified Muslims as the enemy within (Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger: A History of the Present, p. 261).  

Kadayam Subramanian

Kadayam Subramanian is former director of the Research and Policy Division of the Indian Home Ministry and former director general of police in northeastern India. He is the author, among others, of Political Violence and the Police in India and State, Policy and Conflicts in Northeast India.

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