Let us put two statements on Kashmir emanating within the last two days side by side. One is from the GOC of the 15 Corps in Kashmir, Lt Gen Satish Dua, the other from the rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW). The GOC said, as others in the military-security establishment which runs Kashmir have said before him, periodically contradicting themselves and each other, that “indoctrination of the youth to join militant ranks in the Valley is a major cause of concern”, and that they (the army or the state) have been utilising all their resources to get them (the errant youth) back in the mainstream”. There is, obviously, not the remotest hint here that the situation itself can be indoctrination enough. The GOC also referred to the ‘different programs’ deployed to that ‘mainstreaming’ effect. Now, the HRW report says India (again, the military-security establishment) is using “torture to punish detainees in Kashmir and force them to become informers and government gunmen to counter freedom fighters”.
The HRW describes some of the methods of torture employed by the Indian military on Kashmiri bodies, such as beatings, electric shocks, or ‘massaging’ a detainee’s body with ‘a heavy log or roller’. These, as many Kashmiris already know, are just a few of the forms of torture used on them in their land. Some others, one daresay, are even more vicious and bespeak a hatred and enmity so deep that it entails nothing less than total surrender or absolute resistance as a reaction. But is also a measure of the Indian position in Kashmir that the dictates of psychological warfare mean that contradictions are meant to exist alongside each other: if the backbone of militancy is often not broken and peace restored, we also have these ‘fears’ and assorted threats handed out.
The simple point is that bodily or verbal-propaganda warfare enacted on Kashmiris is a part of psychological operations (PsyOps) – also called ‘hearts and minds’. If a Kashmiri was, and is, tortured, or killed, or raped, or disappeared, or detained utterly sans reason, the military structure sends the message to the entirety of the people on just where they stand. The sporting, cultural – ‘sadbhavana’ – activities are an adjunct, a paternalistically violent adjunct to grievous bodily harm, to bring about that desired effect. And that effect is, as a cursory search on the issue will reveal, meant to be on the “value system, belief system, emotions, motives, reasoning or behavior” of the ‘subject’. This, as a famous character said, is elementary.