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Indian Kashmir: New eruption of terrorist violence amid India-Pakistan tensions

Policy

Published 6 months ago – on 10/16/2021




In Jammu and Kashmir, militant separatist violence has plagued the local population since the late 1980s. (Source: IndiaTVNews)

A new wave of violence and targeted assassinations is observed with concern, in a regional context once again marked by serious Indo-Pakistani tensions.

Despite its hospitable weather conditions for the season, it is not exactly a peaceful Indian summer that has enveloped the Himalayan foothills of Indian Kashmir in recent weeks, and in particular its verdant but so volatile Kashmir Valley. The summer monsoon storms have been followed for ten days by the murderous lightning of men – radical militants and other terrorists, to be more precise.

On October 13, in Indian Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a militant was killed in a clash with security forces near Pulwama, 25 km south of Srinagar, the summer capital of India. State. The day before, Indian government forces neutralized 5 armed militants in two separate incidents near Shopian, 50 km south of Srinagar. On October 11, 5 Indian soldiers lost their lives in violent armed clashes near the very sensitive Line of Control (LoC) separating the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir. On October 7, militants shot dead two Hindu teachers at a school in Srinagar; on October 5, gunmen murdered 3 civilians in separate gunfights 90 minutes apart (2 dead in Srinagar; another victim near Shahgund, 37 km northeast of Srinagar).

Barricades and checkpoints

Created a priori A year ago, The Resistance Front (TRF), a violent separatist rebel group, claimed responsibility for these various attacks, considering, for example, to justify its unforgivable misdeeds that the two individuals killed on October 5 “worked for the Indian security forces” present in the Kashmir Valley (India), a classic theater of operations since 1989 for pro-Pakistan separatist militants. According to local authorities, the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is behind the founding of the TRF, whose appearance coincides with the Indian central government’s decision in the summer of 2019 to divide the former State of Jammu and Kashmir into two federally administered regions.

Since January 1, around 200 people – mostly Indian security agents and separatist militants – have lost their lives in the violence in Kashmir. Thirty civilians, including pro-India politicians, were shot dead. Indian authorities put forward the figure of 650 people arrested recently in the Kashmir valley for their affiliation to banned religious or militant groups.

In this multi-confessional Himalayan region of northern India, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities have lived together for centuries. Militant separatist violence bruised the local population from the end of the 1980s. Today, this new wave of violence and targeted assassinations is observed with concern, in a regional context that is also once again marked by serious tensions. indo-pakistani.

In recent days, local authorities have urged Hindu and Sikh families not to leave their homes after dark, as barricades and checkpoints were erected nearby. In this worrying security context, the Indian government has allocated two weeks leave to local officials fearing for their personal safety while traveling to their place of work.

Delicate roadmap

As a reminder, for more than three decades, with a lot of violent attacks, murderous bombings and assassinations, pro-Pakistan separatist rebel groups have been making life difficult in the region of Kashmir administered by India, to the soldiers , police and local Indian politicians, to the local population, in particular urging the latter to support an insurrection leading to the independence of Kashmir or the merger of the entire territory with Pakistan. Since 1989, through successive violent chapters and periods of respite, this violence has at least resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. In the last quarter of 2021, the Indian government is determined to ensure that the Kashmiri population and its various components, including the Hindu and Sikh minorities, do not relive the endless human dramas of the early 1990s, when several dozen thousands of people had been forced to flee violence and insecurity and leave the Kashmir valley.

*Which highlights in particular the millennial specificities of Hinduism and the pride of being Hindu. **BJP: Bharatyia Janata Party (Indian People’s Party), the ruling political party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ***AFP, September 24, 2021.

As is often the case, it is difficult – if not impossible – to disentangle the eruptions of terrorist violence occurring in Indian Kashmir and the violent armed clashes on either side of the Line of Control from the tensions existing between New Delhi and Islamabad. These tensions were very crudely materialized by the recent passes of arms at the podium of the annual General Assembly of the UN at the end of September – in particular the very crude if not aggressive intervention of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Readers will certainly remember the terrible words used on September 24 by the head of the government of Pakistan, in front of an audience of diplomats dumbfounded if not appalled by the violence of the remarks, including one very dubious: “The hateful ideology of Hindutva (Hinduness or ‘Indianness’*), propagated by the fascist RSS-BJP** regime, has unleashed a reign of fear and violence against India’s 200 million strong Muslim community. people. The most severe and widespread form of Islamophobia now rules India”***.

Twenty days have passed since then. No form of apology or regret has so far been made to New Delhi or its Indian counterpart by the former national cricket glory, whose first three years in office have more than a long run. of the chaotic fighter than of the distinguished record.

* The political opposition rushes into this breach and calls for the resignation of the individuals concerned. **In particular since the return to power in Kabul of the Afghan Taliban, mid-August 2021. ***BBC News, October 14, 2021. ****See in particular on this subject various articles published in the French press, including “Imran Khan , the ex-playboy who sponsors the Taliban”, The world, October 8, 2021 or even, a quarter earlier, “Pakistan: Imran Khan, a Prime Minister in the hands of Beijing”, The Express, July 14, 2021.

Moreover, recent events in the land of the pure are probably not likely to restore serenity to its 22nd Prime Minister in the short term. Between the revelations of the Pandora Papers not sparing certain members of his government*, the resurgence of attacks or attacks by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) on the territory** – and the authorities’ attempts to negotiate with these terrorists -, the worrying activity , also on the rise, of the Islamic State group in the tribal areas of the Pakistani-Afghan border***, a particularly tenuous economic situation, an international image that is deteriorating as Islamabad militates for the recognition of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan****, the roadmap for the next few months promises to be tricky to say the least for the team in power in Islamabad. A situation generally conducive to yet another cycle of tension with the Indian neighbor, and to an inflation of violence and incidents in Indian Kashmir. All in all very worrying omens.

How far away today – if not more hypothetical than ever – the surprising proposal of the head of the Pakistani army seems. Addressing the Indian authorities on March 18, General QJ Bajwa then suggested “to bury the past” and, for the future, to work towards cooperation.

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About the Author

Specialist in Asia, researcher at CERIAS (University of Quebec in Montreal), Dr Olivier Guillard is notably the author of the book ”The worrying Islamic Republic of Pakistan”, (L’Harmattan, Paris, December 2021) . Among other parts of Asia, he has traveled extensively to India, South Korea, Afghanistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Nepal, Cambodia and Bangladesh. . Holder of a doctorate in public international law from the University of Paris XI, he is also director of information for Crisis24 (GARDAWORLD), a consulting and engineering firm specializing in the analysis and management of international risks.

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