Contrary to the canards being spread by vested interests, that the army is tired and India is negotiating from a position of weakness in J&K, the army has actually enhanced its capability to deal with the foreign-sponsored insurgency by several orders of magnitude. The army has never been so assured in dealing with the so-called 'guest' militants as it is today in J&K. The other central and State forces such as the BSF, CRPF and the J&K police, have also considerably improved their ability to support the army's proactive stance.
Prime Minister Vajpayee’s ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir(J&K) was a bold initiative that reflected Kashmiri people’s desire for peace. When it was first announced in the holy month of Ramzan, it had generated an electrifying wave of excitement and a glimmer of hope for the future. However, disappointment had soon followed at the systematic disruption of the cease-fire by fanatical mercenary terrorists sponsored by Pakistan’s jehadi groups. Despite grave provocation by way of fidayeen attacks on its camps and enhanced levels of terrorism, the Indian army had held its fire and followed a policy of non-initiation of combat operations (NICO). This implied that the army would retaliate only when attacked first and that too only against terrorists who were unmistakably identified to be armed.
It was a policy that called for the highest levels of restraint and discipline in combat against terrorist who had no scruples. These mercenaries from across the border did not hesitate to mercilessly kill, maim or wound innocent Kashmiris to gain media attention and thereby keep their so-called jehad alive even when the Kashmiri people were tired of over a decade of militancy and wanted peace above all else. Finally, after two extensions, the Government decided to let the ceasefire lapse and the security forces were once again free to initiate operations against the militants. The army had utilised the cease-fire interlude to build its intelligence network, step up civic action and increase its contact with the Kashmiri people.
These efforts now bore fruit. Due to the cooperation of the people of Kashmir, from their intrinsic belief that the so-called jehadis were running their lives and holding the future of their children hostage for their nefarious ends, “actionable” intelligence was available to the army and spectacular results were achieved. In the month of June alone, the first month after the cease-fire was lifted, the army liquidated 240 mercenary terrorists, the highest ever in any single month. Till July 15, 2001, another 150 terrorists had been wiped out. The ratio of army personnel to terrorists killed has gone up to 1:7. The conclusion is unmistakable; despite sporadic attacks by fidayeen squads and a few massacres in villages inhabited by the minority community, the army is in control of the military situation and the terrorists are on the run. Since the fidayeen are suicide bombers, motivated by a potent mix of strident Islamist fundamentalism, the power of the Kalashnikov and pocket full of narcodollars, some suicidal attacks are bound to succeed. Taking these incidents into account while evaluating the Intensity of the militancy in J&K would lead to a skewed assessment.
The qualitatively superior results in operations achieved over the last two months can, to a large extent, be attributed to the success of the army’s ongoing modernisation drive. In recent years, the army has been constantly striving to upgrade its technological capability to improve its ability to combat militancy in a more effective and coordinated manner. Better intelligence and surveillance capability, the introduction of more effective close quarter battle weapons and improved tactics are paying rich dividends.
Naturally, the process is an ongoing one and a lot still needs to be done to reach an optimum level of combat efficiency. Due to the constantly increasing military control over the internal security situation, the pressure on the army is continuously decreasing. The raising and induction of additional Rashtriya Rifles battalions in J&K has enabled the army to considerably reduce the number of regular infantry battalions being employed for counter insurgency operations.
Both these factors have led to a situation where the troops can be given more time off for rest and recuperation and recreational activities than was the case till a few years ago. They also have to serve for shorter tenures of duty. The result is that the jawans are physically as Well as psychologically better prepared to cope with the isolation and other hazards inherent in counter-insurgency operations.
Every battalion being inducted into J&K for counter-insurgency operations is being given one month’s to two of basic on-the-job training. The aspect of safeguarding human rights is emphasised during training and closely monitored by the commanders during the conduct of operations. The key principles applicable in upholding human rights have been enshrined as commandments and issued to the troops. On the rare occasion when violations to occur, these are mainly attributable to instinctive reactions in the heat of the moment. Notwithstanding the motivation or the cause, deterrent punishment Is speedily awarded to the individuals concerned and the results of the trial! conducted are widely publicised. Gradually, the whole process is being made more and more transparent.
In over a decade of militancy in J&K, the army alone has liquidated approximately 11,000 militants. Over twice that number have been apprehended and handed over to the J&K police for the civil judiciary to proceed against them. More than 30,000 Kalashnikovs (AK-47s, AK-56s and AK -74s) and other major weapons have been recovered from the militants and those hidden in arms caches. Several hundred thousand rounds of ammunition have been recovered. The TNT stocks that nave been recovered are sufficient to blow up several high value targets many times over. A stage has come where militancy in J&K is being driven primarily by foreign mercenary terrorists controlled by Pakistan’s ISI and there are virtually no “indigenous” militants still left in the fray. The notable successes of the army, combined with those of the other security forces, have created the night conditions fora political dialogue to be initiated to eliminate the root causes of militancy in Kashmir.
Contrary to the canards being spread by vested interests, that the army is tired and India is negotiating from a position of weakness in J&K, the army has actually enhanced its capability to deal with the foreign-sponsored insurgency by several orders of magnitude.
In fact, the army has never been so assured in dealing with the so-called ‘guest’ militants as it is today in J&K. The other central and State forces such as the BSF, CRPF and the J&K police (particularly its Special Operations Group), have also considerably improved their ability to support the army’s proactive stance. Together, the security forces have given the Government of India a strong platform from which to negotiate a solution to the long-standing J&K issue and to firmly tell General Musharraf, and his colleagues in Pakistan’s ruling coterie that the core issue as far as India is concerned is the cessation of cross border terrorism and that further progress in negotiations is contingent on this condition.