Unrest may revisit Kashmir this summer given the disclosures made by Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Talha, arrested by the police for the fidayeen attack at Bemina’s CRPF camp earlier this month. The slain terrorists, identified as Saif of Dera Ghazi Khan and Haider of Multan, Pakistan, by the police, and Talha’s questioning, has confirmed fears of more such incursions into the Valley with the melting of snows this summer.
Indeed, in the last few weeks, there have been at least 12 terror strikes in the Valley against the police, CRPF and BSF personnel. The frequency of attacks suggests the militants are taking full advantage of the “disarming” of police and paramilitary forces — a decision widely being attributed to Chief minister Omar Abdullah’s keenness on taking “popular” decisions in the run-up to the assembly polls next year. “A rise in unrest results in increase in aid and help to militants by the people,” said a senior intelligence officer.
Various Kashmiri separatist groups have formed Mutahid-a-Majlis Mashwarat, including elements of Hurriyat factions, Dukhtaran-e-Millat and JKLF, spearheading a campaign for return of the mortal remains of JKLF leader Maqbool Bhat and parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The Mashwarat has been issuing a weekly protest calendar which serves to keep the Valley on the boil until reinforcements for the fidayeen and militants arrive.
As if on cue, shopkeepers in Saraf Kadal, Kawdara and other areas of Old City area have been observing periodic shutdowns pressing for the immediate removal of security bunkers. “But more disturbing are reports of National Conference activists instigating people, calling for the removal of bunkers,” an intelligence source said. If that is so it’s worrying for another reason.
Punjabi Taliban chief, Maulana Asmatullah Muawiya, is already on record saying that the hanging of Kasab and Afzal has intensified passion for jihad among Muslim youth and India will have to pay the price for this “unwise” decision in Kashmir. Muawiya was once a Jaish-e-Mohammad warlord and known for his activities inside Kashmir.
“The execution of Kasab and Afzal has aroused a new passion and spirit for jihad among the youth of this region. It is clear that angry mujahideen, after the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, will search for a new battlefield. Surely their ultimate choice would be Kashmir,” said Muawiya.
Given the current mood in the Valley, it’s hardly surprising that Omar himself has turned into a strong votary of the return of the mortal remains of Afzal and Bhat, the JKLF founder hanged in 1984 and buried inside Tihar jail. Omar has also questioned Afzal’s hanging. His statements have given a handle to the separatists to increase their anti-India rhetoric. J&K director general of police, Ashok Prasad, said terrorists are looking to carry out more attacks for propaganda and publicity.
Perhaps aware that hard line against the Centre will help the party electorally, the NC leadership has started taking pot-shots at the Union government. Taking a cue from Omar Abdullah, who slammed the Central government in the assembly this week for “ignoring” the political aspirations of Kashmiris harping on the conditions on which the accession of the state had taken place, Tanvir Sadiq, political secretary of the CM, said, “Kashmir issue exists and no one can deny this. It’s not necessary we agree with each other’s viewpoints but at the end of the day we all want to address this political issue and resolve it amicably.”