Mon, Dec 5, 2016 | updated 10:10 PM IST

Government cracks whip for second time in 26 years to curb anti-national activities

Updated: Oct 25, 2016 18:26 IST

By Col. (Retired) Anil Bhat

New Delhi [India], Oct.25 (ANI): The Jammu and Kashmir government's decision to dismiss twelve government employees for indulging in anti-national activities and also its revelation that it is closely monitoring over 100 other staff members on similar charges is not something new. In fact, this is reportedly the second time in 26 years that such an exercise has been undertaken.

Those sacked included mid-level officials from various state administration departments and teachers, some of whom were arrested, while others are out on bail or avoiding arrest.

The Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP coalition state government has so far arrested more than 9,000 people for disrupting peace and detained more than 450.

On October 18, for the first time in over a decade, joint teams Jammu and Kashmir and central police accompanied by the army, searched over 700 houses over a period of 12 hours in Baramula district and recovered seditious anti-India publicity materials like leaflets and pamphlets, national flags of the Peoples' Republic of China, letter heads of terrorist organizations, crude bombs and unauthorized mobile phones.

While Pakistani flags were very common and even ISIS flags have been seen now and then, Chinese flags are a new addition. Forty four persons from ten sensitive localities, including Qazi Hamam, Ganai Hamam, Taweed Gunj, Jamia and other small pockets were arrested.

On October 16, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) issued a statement in Srinagar that, "lauded the people of Kashmir for showing steadfastness on the completion of 100 days of the so-called Intifada", which has claimed 90 lives and injured over 12,000 in violent clashes so far.

The head of the hardline faction of the AHPC, S.A.S. Geelani and M.U. Farooq, heading the so-called "moderate" faction of separatists being under house arrest did not prevent the calendars continuously inciting people to hate and violent disruption being spread in the Kashmir valley.

Here is a brief excerpt: 26 September, Monday No Relaxation, Non Resident Kashmiris' (NRK) referendum March. NRK's and friends of Kashmir Freedom Struggle March towards UN Headquarters and Indian Embassies all over world including Pakistan and Azad Kashmir on the day when India speaks at 71st UN General Assembly Session. Carry flags banners and placards with messages reminding world of promises of referendum for the people of Jammu and Kashmir ............ Back home, assemble and occupy all roads from11a.m. to 4p.m. and carry flags, banners, placards with messages reminding world of promises of referendum for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and highlighting war crimes perpetrated by Indian occupational forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Offer Zuhar prayers on roads..27 September, Tuesday, Relaxation from 6 pm to 6 am, Women's Day. Assemble and occupy local chowks and centers from Zuhr to Asr in the vicinity of your mohallas, villages and localities; Protest with flags placards and banners with freedom messages and slogans...28 September, Wednesday Relaxation from 6 pm to 6 am, Trehgam, Pattan, Hajin, Khag, Wakoora, Srinagar (North) (Shaher-e-Khas), Pulwama (central), Koimouh, Kellar, Pahalgam freedom march..29 September, Thursday, Relaxation 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. One day Azadi convention, Neighbouring villages and localities organize one day azadi convention from 11am to 4pm in respective areas, deliberate and discuss ways and means to strengthen the ongoing people's uprising ...Directions for all the days: 1. Protests be held across Jammu and Kashmir. 2. Shutdown across J&K on all days except the relaxation mentioned in the program.3. Public Vehicular movement not to be stopped after 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on all nights. 4. Lockdown all the routes entering your mohallas, villages and localities by every means during night to protect people in general and youth in particular from the raids and arrests by Indian forces and J&K police. 5. Play Islamic and Azadi Taranas(songs) from Magrib to Isha on all days.

According to local media, the "united Hurriyat" have run out of ideas to keep Kashmir boiling and quite confused, have issued a fresh protest calendar in October on the same anti-national lines as previous ones. People dealing with business in Kashmir have ridiculed the Hurriyat leaders. With no respite from separatists, people continue taking to the streets. On October 6, transporters publicly protested against S.A. S. Geelani in Lal Chowk saying he had failed to think of their livelihood and that their families were suffering from starvation. Business delegations have been visiting Geelani's residence requesting for extension of relaxation and restoration of normalcy. A delegation of transporters visited Geelani's residence complaining that he was only concerned about shopkeepers and completely ignoring transporters. Since July 8, when protests erupted, the Hurriyat had not announced a single hour of relaxation for buses, cabs and auto rickshaws. When some auto-rickshaws defied a ban, two of their vehicles were torched by miscreants. For the past three months the separatists have been issuing protest calendars, preventing restoration of normalcy in Kashmir.

One of the definite aims of Pakistan Army/Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), implemented through its lackeys, the separatists, has been to paralyse education. Generating large scale rioting by public and particularly youth in Kashmir Valley, the separatists and their network yet again not only shut down schools, but had six schools burnt by the agitators - three at Anantnag and one each at Ganderbal, Shopian and Bandipora. Most of the scorched schools are primary schools except for the Abu Hanifa Complex Public School, begun in 1974, which during the previous academic year, functioned for only 215 days.

It is indeed most ironic that leave alone ensuring that education is not disrupted, a sinister process of radicalizing youth, which should have been nipped in the bud, but instead was allowed to fester, causing irreparable damage to education.

Earlier, owing to frequent imposition of close-downs ordered by the separatists, on an average, two/three days in a week most institutions remained closed, causing discontinuity in the education process. The current year, 2016, has been the worst, with a loss of tens of thousands of education-days owing to these protests/rioting and resultant curfews.

This figure multiplied by the number of students in the valley with the number of days lost, will be alarmingly high. Add to that the loss caused by the schools which were burnt as well as the time and effort required to rebuild them. Every Kashmiri separatist leader's daughter or son is rich and safe, outside Kashmir. For them, Jihad is meant for other people's sons.

The only schools which ran uninterruptedly in the affected parts of the valley are 30 of the 46 Army Goodwill Schools (AGS) established in J&K by the Army as part of its civic assistance programme, Sadbhavna, since the early 1990s. In parts of J&K where the AGS are functioning, there is good rapport between the Army and the local populace. The setting up of AGS was preceded by a scheme of the Army sponsoring students from poor backgrounds and remote locations in J&K to Army schools in other states, most notable among them being Army Public School (APS), Beas, Punjab. In this APS, Army has sponsored 60 students of J&K- 26 from Leh region, 30 from the Valley and four from the Jammu region. Comprising both boys and girls, these students, from classes 6th to 9th, are getting uninterrupted quality education in a healthy and competitive environment and at absolutely no cost to the parents. Another noteworthy example is APS, Udhampur, in the hostel of which, 26 boys from various regions of the State are being housed and educated. Among them is the last 10th class topper, Sunak Singh, who was adopted by the Army after his father was mercilessly gunned down by terrorists in 2001.

With the rioting reducing considerably, the Army in J&K is trying wherever possible to assist schools in re-starting and encouraging children to resume attending schools, even as many parents who can afford to, are sending their children out of J&K, or at least out of the valley. The Army has also launched a campaign on Twitter, Hashtag #School Chalo, which has been catching on.

The government now needs to be innovative. It must use the same social media which has been misused by the ISI and separatists for radicalizing Kashmiri youth and try to turn the tide. Having interviewed many Kashmiri children brought on all-India tours by the Army and BSF over the past two decades, one can say that all is not lost and there is hope for retrieval. There should be a sustained campaign on social media with visuals post 1947 history, of Pakistan military's barbaric suppression of hapless people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Balochistan and other aspects to drive home to Kashmiris of the affected valley districts about how Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists are ruining their lives.

Chief Minister Mehbooba, lashed out at the separatists and has finally begun acting against them. At least Yasin Malik and Aasiya Andrabi are in jail. Her message to youth is sane and touching-"We can't force someone to talk by throwing stones on them. If we need a dialogue, we have to stop militancy..If we can hand them a bat or a ball instead of guns... " It needs to be added yet again that no matter what is done, there will be no lasting peace in J&K till, literally, the separatists are not separated from the people.

The views expressed in the above article are that of Col (Retired) Anil Bhat. (ANI)