Srinagar: On the one hand the army commander for south Kashmir claims that the “back of militancy has been broken” in Kashmir, but on the other hand the establishing of seven more military camps in the Valley, six of them in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, contradicts that claim.
The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and even pro-freedom leaders have consistently raised the demand for demilitarising Kashmir. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti recently said that “shoots of peace had started sprouting” in Kashmir, and it is the “right time to have peace talks with Pakistan”.
Around the same time, commander of the army’s south Kashmir-based Victor Force, Major General BS Raju said that hardly any area remains under control of militants and the time has come for “a great deal of political sagacity”.
If the situation is so ripe for peace, why is the army establishing more camps in Kashmir?
“I think this question should be asked to the government,” PDP General Secretary Nizamudin Bhat said. “Demilitarisation is carried out after intelligence gives the green signal. High-level gatherings, including of ministries and members of the Unified Command, decide whether to demilitarise or remilitarise a region.”
Bhat said that it has been the consistent line of the PDP that a political approach is needed to address the Kashmir issue, rather than a military one.
“Militancy can be treated as a law and order problem, but a political solution will ultimately be required to bring about permanent peace in the region,” he said.
In response to a question on remilitarisation and government calls for peace, law professor Dr Sheikh Showket Hussain said the statements coming from the government were mostly tailored for public consumption.
“Actually, the system works in its own way. The issue of remilitarisation should be seen in that context,” he said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami said the problem with the PDP dispensation is that they have undertaken an alliance with those who want more militarisation of Kashmir, that is, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“The PDP is in love with those who want to bring more army on the ground,” Tarigami said. “If peace has come and the back of militancy is broken, what next?”
He said that in the past 30 years, insurgency has risen and ebbed on various occasions. “The insurgency has remained in a ‘near control’ situation time and again. The main point is that it remains ‘near control’, but never ends,” Tarigami said.
“The basic question is how this uncertainty will end? There needs to be a genuine political process to solve the Kashmir problem. I will suggest the authorities to understand the basic situation,” he said.
According to the chief minister, there are about 200 militants active in Kashmir. In the past few months, the army has established new camps at Pahnoo, Pinzroo, Nagisharan, Chillpora, Sugan and Dachoo areas of Shopian in south Kashmir, while in north Kashmir the army has established a camp at Naidkhai.
Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said that establishing new camps in Kashmir is part of “routine deployment”. “I want to make it clear that new army camps have not been established for operational purposes,” Kalia said.