Conflict in Jammu and Kashmir

India and Pakistan have in the past fought four wars over J&K and held several talks to resolve the 56 year old problem, but till now no tangible results have emerged, except for a composite dialogue. Although, both India and Pakistan are trying to move the peace process ahead, yet there are very few indications in a policy shift. Pakistan continues to stick on to the line of Kashmir remaining a dispute territory and an ‘unfinished agenda’ of Partition, India maintains its stand on J&K “Accession document” which remains final and complete and the problem which remains is cross border terrorism. Most conflicts around the world remain unresolved; however, there are exceptions and dialogues have resulted in signing peace agreements like the signing of the Aceh accord, the Northern Ireland peace accord and the diffusion of tension in the North Korean nuclear issue after the six party talks. Notwithstanding the above, tension is still rampant in a number of places after a brief spell of peace and sensibility.

There are no ‘rear lines’ where democratic societies are safe and actually a ‘war against terror’ is a misnomer, because it is difficult to wage war against an unknown enemy. The phases of conflict in J&K have followed different patterns and have been terrain and climate driven. The shift in strategies in the conflict has been dependent on the target and visibility, of a seen or an unseen enemy of a stable or an unstable Government and to apply appropriate pressures, the masters remotely separated from ground situation, at times apathetic, institute checks and balances through their respective styles of governance. In this overall process, the centre of gravity, the main focus of all strategies in combating terrorism, the people of J&K have become secondary and the Security Forces deployed for the security of the people, at times forget the purpose of their stay resulting in a paradigm shift in the overall security of the entire region. To offset the impasse, a continuous process of refinement, in policies with changed scenarios, keeping the new world order as a calibrated system of progression, is an inescapable commitment for bringing about peace and stability in the entire state of J&K.

Pattern of Conflict

The pattern of conflict has varied from a mix of seen and unseen enemy presenting different targets in the State of J&K, to a conventional type of declared war scenario. In the initial phases of the first conflict of 1947–48, Maj Gen Akbar Khan of the Pakistan Army orchestrated the infiltration of the Kabailies, who created mayhem, in looting and arson in the Kashmir Valley and at other places and tried to capture Srinagar. They nearly succeeded in their effort and could only be stalled in their tracks on the arrival of the Indian Army troops on the 27th of October 1947, a day after the signing of the ‘Instrument of Accessation’. In 1965m Operation Gibraltar with the Pakistan military disguised as civilians tried to make inroads and incite the civilian population to rebel and tie the security forces down while the Pakistani army would attack along the Line of Control, a mix of seen and unseen enemy. The 14 days war of 1971, which was fought in J&K was essentially a war with a visible enemy and then came a phase of an unseen, insular force which became difficult to identify a friend or foe and it is 16 years since, which has given birth to the concept of a proxy war or a limited war.

It will now be pertinent to see a shift in the pattern of the proxy war scenario from 1989 onwards and the jig saw puzzle of the change in locations of the thrust of the conflict will start making sense when the inputs of terrain and demography are meshed into it. The initial phase was concentrated in the Valley, with the insurgency movement gaining impetus with the kidnapping of the three Air Force personnel who were subsequently killed. The problem spread in the Kashmir Valley and the Security Forces came down heavily on them and the requirement of raising a force to deal with the problem was felt. The raising of the Rashtriya Rifles Force (RR) commenced in 1990 and now the force boasts of strength of over 60 Battalions. The conflict then gained impetus on the higher reaches of Shamshabari Ranges in the Kishtwar – Warwan areas and though inputs on such camps were scanty, yet little action was taken to confirm reports and to deal with the situation. The focus shifted from predominantly Kashmir to Kishtwar and Bhaderwah areas of the Doda District and efforts were made by the insurgent tanzeems to become active during the second half of 1990’s, while near normalcy returned to the Valley. With the attention of the security forces now focussed in the Jammu Region, Pakistan in the guise of mujahaddin, occupied the Kargil heights and tried to cut off the only life line to Ladakh. However, with the importance attached to clearing the opposition, the Pakistani designs were neutralised and again till 2001, the overall situation improved. With some respite to the security forces and with the requirements of the tanzeems showing their prowess, it became important for their to re-charge their struggle and the focus was once again to raise the ante in the Kashmir Region with infiltration attempts on the rise in the Jammu Division. However, when the situation became difficult for the Security Forces in 2002–03, ‘Sarp Vinash’ which caught the head lines in the months of May 2003, when the Army launched ‘Operation Sarp Vinash’, which caught the headlines in May 2003. Later, that year a unilateral declaration of cease fire, along the Line of Control by Pakistan, and the ferocity of operation reduced considerably.