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How Kashmir managed its peace

Sunday June 26, 2011 04:38:44 PM, Sarwar Kashani, IANS

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Srinagar: Peace finally appears descending on the Kashmir Valley with a huge rush of domestic and foreign visitors as officials claim that the Pakistan game plan of "orchestrating street protests" has been punctured with "not a single" violent agitation this year so far.

Security officials in Jammu and Kashmir say that the year 2011 has until now been "most peaceful" - in terms of both militancy-related incidents and civil unrest - in the last 20 years of armed separatist campaign backed by Pakistan.

"This is because we have been able to identify a pattern in the ISI (Pakistan's intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence) game plan," a senior police officer told IANS, requesting not to be named.

The officer said the profiles of protest managers suggest that they were "seasoned campaigners" of separatist groups and have been instigating teenagers to resort to stone pelting at security forces.

"Some 1,500 instigators have either been locked up or exposed and have cases pending against them. That was a big help in managing peace and not a single incident of violent protest has occured thus far," he said.

Studied closely, there appears a phenomenon in what was largely considered as spontaneous and impulsive street protests that dealt a deadly blow to the tourist season in the Kashmir Valley during the last three summers.

The official, citing a confidential police document to study the pattern, said that ISI had in 2005 realised that "militancy was not serving the purpose" as tourists had begun to travel to Kashmir - which is "of course a sign of normalcy".

"Pakistan-backed militant and separatist groups then began identifying issues to trigger civil unrest through hired provocateurs," said the officer.

In 2006 it was the notorious sex scandal in Srinagar.

Separatist leaders, Masarat Alam of the Hurriyat Conference and Asiya Andrabi of the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, campaigned widely against the scandal, accusing security forces of masterminding it.

The year saw months of agitation and that led to re-igniting of separatist sentiments after years of relative peace and stability in the valley - something that Pakistan-sponsored militancy failed to do.

"They tried, but failed to identify any issue in 2007. There were street protests but not so widespread," the official said.

But 2008, he said, was a turning point for the new ISI strategy. The dispute over a piece of land for a Hindu temple trust and the subsequent death of at least 60 Kashmiri Muslim protesters in police firing again threw the state back to its early militancy era of 1990s.

In 2009, months of street protests were organised following the mysterious death of two women in a south Kashmir village.

The 2010 summer was more violent than the previous years. The cycle of civilian killings and stone-pelting protests that started in June lasted for over three months, leaving some 110 civilians dead, mostly in firing by security forces.

"This year they (Pakistan) tried on some occasions but couldn't find ground workers to instigate the trouble," the official said.

He however said there was a possibility that violent street protests may erupt again because "it is not difficult to provoke teenagers".

"We are keeping a close eye and the job is only half done. Last year it (the trouble) started when the tourists began arriving. They may try to create another unrest," he said.



(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at s.kashani@ians.in)

 

 

 

 


 

 

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