For `National’ Defence

The state police exploded the ISIS flag myth recently, saying that it was not a serious issue. This is contrary to the army’s statements which blew the “appearances” out of proportion and sounded a `national’ alert. The Government of India has maintained a massive presence of armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir from the very beginning. It is believed that more than 600,000 regulars are stationed in the Kashmir Valley alone for `national’ defence.  New Delhi has never bothered to justify the scale of the military presence in the state for more than five decades. But it has found itself in a tight corner over the issue, especially at the international level. So, now New Delhi tries to manufacture excuses, through overt and covert means, for maintaining the number of troops it deems fit to fight the Kashmiri mindset.

After the army went to town about a few individuals hoisting ISIS flags in Srinagar and outlying districts, the gullible Indian has come to feel that the ISIS threat looms large in Kashmir and that the army, in huge numbers, and the AFSPA, are needed for guarding the unity and integrity of the country. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as well as security agencies have so far said that the ISIS has no presence in Kashmir. A few months ago, the Chief Minister clarified that a Kashmir youth based in Australia had reportedly joined the Islamic State, and added that none from Kashmir had travelled to Syria or Iraq to join the group. He recently termed the youth waving ISIS flags as ‘idiots’.

Before the devastating floods, the police in Srinagar had questioned several youth over the surfacing of ISIS flags in Kashmir. The police had also questioned a cameraman working for a Mumbai-based news channel.  Speaking at a police function in Jammu the other day, the Chief Minister said that the Government of India must reconsider its stand on revoking the AFSPA as militancy had declined in the state to a large extent and therefore such a law was not needed any more. It is an irony that world’s fourth largest army needs a draconian law to fight a handful of militants in Kashmir. The draconian law is a slur on democracy and has further tarnished the image of the country at international fora where they believe that India justifies crimes like rape and murder in the garb of `national duty’. Omar Abdullah has rightly demanded the revocation of the law, and the central government must consider the appeal.

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