Anantnag: After government forces brought back memories of the ’90s with their crackdowns, especially in south Kashmir, militants seem to be responding in the same manner, choosing 17 Ramadhan, the eve of Jang-e-Badr, to carry out multiple attacks.
Jang-e-Badr was the war fought by the Prophet of Islam, Mohammad (PBUH), against his opponents in Quraish of Mecca on Tuesday, March 13, 624 CE (Ramzan 17, 2 AH).
The battle of Badr is attributed with divine intervention and has been marked in history as a decisive victory and as an acknowledgement of the strategic genius of Mohammad (PBUH). It is one of the few battles mentioned in the Holy Quran.
Coincidentally, it was a Tuesday yesterday (June 13) and the date was also the 13th. At least four attacks were carried out by militants in different parts of south Kashmir, leaving 12 government troops injured, four of them critically.
Four rifles were also snatched from policemen in Anantnag district.
An attack on the army in north Kashmir’s Sopore was also reported late Tuesday evening.
Social media was abuzz all day and rumours gripped the Kashmir valley as news of one attack after another kept pouring in. There were rumours of a few more attacks that did not actually happen.
A senior journalist who covered the armed uprising right through the nineties and into the 2000s, told Kashmir Reader that the attacks carried out on Tuesday were not haphazard or coincidental.
“I think the attacks were meticulously planned on this day to remind the people of the armed struggle of the nineties,” the journalist, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
He said that every year in the early nineties, the day 17 Ramdhan was chosen for widespread attacks on government forces. “Called ‘action’ in those days, the militants would make it a point to strike on this day, their way of commemorating the battle of Badr, the journalist said.
Former BBC correspondent, Yusuf Jameel, who covered Kashmir’s armed militancy, said the scale of attacks back in the ’90s was much greater. “There were a number of incidents during the nineties on a given day. The scale was much larger than this. I think we cannot compare the two,” Jameel told Kashmir Reader.
The 17 Ramazan in the year 2002 stands out as the bloodiest in terms of the attacks carried out by militants. Eight uniformed men were killed and 9 others were injured in two different attacks, one in Srinagar and the other far away in Banihal.
Hotel Pamposh in Srinagar, home to the CRPF’s 113 and 92 Bn, was stormed into by uniform-wearing LeT militants, who managed to kill 6 paramilitary troopers and injured 9 others before succumbing to the gunfight. Two policemen were shot dead in Banihal on the same day.
People who have lived through the turbulent nineties and the early 2000s in Kashmir recall that the day used to be an edgy one for commoners, as attacks would almost be certain.
“Many areas witnessed sporadic shutdowns on this day. We were wary of the attacks on government forces which brought the wrath of government forces on the general public,” said Ghulam Hassan, a senior citizen of Anantnag town.
He said many people living in the vicinity of forces’ camps would migrate to relatives’ places, in safer areas, on this day to avoid being caught in the crossfire or the nightmare that followed.
Some political observers said that this Tuesday’s attacks could mark a new beginning in the current Kashmir conflict. “We have to wait and watch if this was a one-time throwback to the nineties, or if we are going to see more such tactics, as part of a strategy,” said political commentator and author Rao Farman Ali.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG), South Kashmir Range, SP Pani said the situation was not alarming. “This is not a new thing. Not only in the nineties but in the early 2000s as well, there used to be such attacks on the 17th of Ramazan. Compared to that, Tuesday’s attacks were not that intense,” Pani told Kashmir Reader.
He said that militants were not able to strike throughout the day and during the night they struck some vulnerable targets and that, too, from a distance.
“There have been gory attacks on this day. I remember in 2003 or 04, seven policemen were killed on this day. The current situation is not alarming at all,” he said.
Pani added that Tuesday’s attacks in no way can be compared to the turbulent 90s or for that matter the early 2000s. “This is just a new phase of militancy and it is not going to last long,” he said.