An organisation that attacks and disrupts the modern mode of communication cannot be working for Indian intelligence agencies. The step taken to disrupt communication services is not new in insurgencies going around the world. Disrupting communication of the state breaks its chain of informers as was proved with troops resorting to old methods of cordoning villages rather than relying on deft intelligence.
Lashkar-e-Islam owned both the killings and attacks on mobile towers that took place in Sopore area, a bastion of pro-freedom sentiment, and put forward their evidence. In a long press note mailed to an Urdu daily, the organisation rebuffed Syed Ali Geelani and Syed Salahuddin’s assertion that they belong to Indian agencies. It is said that British were saved in 1857, the first war of Indian independence, by a the telegraph. Telegraph was then what mobile communication is for us. Then why were Geelani, Salahuddin of United Jihad Council and Lashkar-e-Toiba vociferous against LeI? Why did they call these tactics against the Tehreek? Are they the godfathers of this Tehreek?
To understand their vitriol one has to know that both Salahuddin and Geelani come from Jamaat-e-Islami while as LeT has a Ahl-e-Hadith background. Both JeI and LeT are close to Pakistani state. They cannot go against the state. They cannot take independent decisions. Both fight for the safety of Pakistani state. What does LeI formation for Kashmir mean then? It means after twenty eight years an independent organisation has emerged—one which is not shy of doing things that they consider are going against the movement–that for certain is looking beyond the Pakistani state.
In a way it was on the cards. Twenty-eight years of armed movement against India was certain to give rise to independent groups. It may be a fledgling group and may not survive for long, but it has set a precedent. By taking the name of LeI it has shown that Kashmir is also moving toward the global conflict. Guerrilla operations work better when local commanders takes action based on their experience in the field.
Since the attacks in Sopore, Kashmiri militants have started to come out into open. In south Kashmir indigenous militants post pictures on social networking sites. After a long time these militants have started to make the Indian state reactive. Over the years the Indian state has been successful in building a propaganda narrative that whenever there is a talk of removing AFSPA, some untoward accidents happen which derails the process! Many naïve Kashmiris accepted this, ably aided by some pro-India journalists who spread this canard. Some Kashmiris also believed in the process that attacks on Indian troops were the handiwork of their own people, not of militants! This gullibility continues with some persons. Now LeI in north and HM in south owning responsibility and going public has debunked that myth. A number of journalists wrote on these 4G fighters who share their pictures on social network sites. This is not what the Indian state wants. Whatever any journalist writes about them is certainly going to add to their aura. They, in the process, will be able to add more people to their ranks. Coupled with the Indian state’s programme of defaming every agitational pro-resistance leader, what alternative is left for Kashmiris?
From the year 1990, the Indian state used draconian methods in the belief that Kashmiris have no will to resist. They were the same people who did not shed a tear when Maqbool Bhat was hanged in 1984. They were the same people whom Sheikh Abdullah herded to India. But the draconian repression of 1990s awoke the apathetic population. The will to resist against Indian state has now a domino effect. Today even the pro-Indian parties say that Kashmir has to be solved. The pro-freedom movement has spread to most districts of Kashmir. Years of draconian oppression was certain to radicalise youth. As the Indian state tends to believe its own propaganda it thought Kashmir youths would take oppression lay down. Twenty-eight years of armed conflict with the Indian state has made many realise that it understands only the language of violence.
Now numbers do not matter for these 4G fighters. For them the history of Islam is replete with stories of a few hundred people defeating huge armies. The Quran repeatedly mentions these events. They have an Islamic history to back them up. They have numerous prophecies to keep their hopes alive. If they get killed it is martyrdom for them. If they survive they are qazis. Drilled in this ideology how are they going to lose? On the other hand Indians have always believed in numbers. They take pride in being able to defeat a tiny nation of Pakistan in the 1971 war of Bangladesh. For the same reason they have stationed seven hundred fifty thousand troops in Kashmir where the population is just 12 million. The state tried every bit to crush Kashmiris. It put up a counter-revolutionary force—notoriously known as Nabadees in Kashmir. Within six years the counter revolutionary forces lost. It was bound to happen. They had no legitimacy. They didn’t get burial grounds, were socially ostracised and regarded as thugs.
Every protracted insurgency has resulted in victory for the revolutionary groups. Both history and numbers back this. In the first decade of revolutionary war 2,700 troops were killed against 12,336 militants killed, as claimed by the SATP portal. It means that one trooper killed 4.5 militants before he was liquidated. In the next decade the pro-resistance fighters were able to inflict significant casualties on the troops killing 2631 troops at a ratio of 1:3.4. (9059 militants against 2631 troops). Post 2010 as the 4G guerrillas came to the fore the fatalities among Indian forces are on increase. The Indian troops claim to have killed 464 militants and in the process their 182 troops were neutralised by the 4G fighters thus bringing the ratio further down to 1:2.5. This has been achieved without any central or charismatic leadership, like almost all insurgencies in the world. One of the tributes paid by India to Kashmir insurgency was sending governors who were experts in their fields of intelligence and military. KV Krishna Rao, a former chief of India army, was twice the governor of Kashmir; Girish Chandra Saxena also served twice and was a former director of RAW and then came Lt Gen (Retd) SK Sinha. In that scenario where one of the world’s best armies is unable to defeat the insurgency, the local insurgents are now toying with it by raising ISIS and Taliban flags, challenging it to bring more forces in Kashmir, trying to make conflict deadlier and costlier for India. While Geelani and his ilk may parrot ‘fame and defame’ the 4G generation of fighters are not worried about such gimmicks. Their legitimacy stems from the people among whom they operate.
Secessionist movements are not run on the whims of world opinions. If that had been the case then no occupied land would have attained freedom. Whether ISIS comes here or not is irrelevant. The 4G militants of Kashmir know large chunk of the population supports them. The Indian state must know that whenever people in a colony start a war against any colonial empire, people always win. The morale of the colonised people is not dependent on body bags or economy, more deaths and destruction make their resolve steely, same is not the case with the colonisers. People coming in thousands to attend millitant’s funerals, pelting stones on troops’ bunkers and camps shows who has won the political war. Even mere survival of an insurgent is a political victory. Therefore, as per counter insurgent expert Robert Taber, he creates a “climate of collapse” for the occupational powers. You cannot kill a population into subjugation. You can put a million more troops laden with sophisticated weaponry, but they will be without any objective, they will mount offensives without any victory, a number of them will perish without any compensation. No population has lost as long as it refuses to concede defeat. In any insurgency it is the will that decides the outcome.
The Indian think tanks know that politically they have lost Kashmir and militarily they will continue to occupy Kashmir for some years more, and then there would be bargaining.