India’s deceptive Operation Sadbhavana in occupied Kashmir
Asif Haroon Raja
Apart from the ruler of Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh’s deplorable role in 1947 of signing the instrument of accession of the state to India against the wishes of people of Kashmir and subsequent invasion and forceful occupation of two-third Kashmir by Indian forces, Kashmiris have also been betrayed by their own leaders. Sheikh Abdullah who first lit the flame of hope of liberty from Dogra Raj in early 1930s by forming National Conference, he let down his people by becoming a courtier of India. When he became reluctant to ratify Article 370 of Indian Constitution to make occupied Kashmir integral part of India, he was betrayed by Nehru whom he regarded as his close friend and mentor. He was arrested and he languished in jail from 1953-58. He was again interned from 1958 to 1964 and again from 1964 till 1974. Once he gave in he was appointed chief minister of the state in 1977 and died in 1982. His son Farooq Abdullah and now his grandson Omar Abdullah are loyally serving the interests of India and disregarding the miserable plight of people of Kashmir who have a long history of subjugation and deprivation.
Besides Abdullah dynasty, there have been quite a few others like Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad who sold their souls for the sake of power and pelf. These puppets enabled India to affect a change in Indian constitution and make occupied Kashmir part of Indian Union. They allowed India to consolidate its hold over the state by accepting continued presence of Indian security forces, agreeing to impose governor rule frequently as well as draconian laws. They have turned a blind eye to state terrorism resorted to by Indian forces and absence of justice. But for the immoral role of these puppeteers cajoled by Indians but hated by people of Kashmir, India could not have merged disputed Kashmir within Indian Union by incorporating Article 370 through constitutional amendment. Rigged elections were held under the barrel of the gun to form state governments of choice and to sideline genuine leaders. National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party which take turns to rule the state accept Indian rule in Kashmir.
India claims the whole territory of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) as integral part of Indian Union and is in control of nearly 43% of former princely state. Areas under its illegal occupation since 1948 are Jammu, Kashmir valley, Ladakh. Pakistan considers Kashmir a disputed territory since it draws strength from UN resolutions and wishes of the people of Kashmir. It controls about 37% of Kashmir known as Azad Kashmir. China controls 20% of area which includes Aksai Chin, adjacent to Tibet and Shaksam valley in Trans-Karakoram Tract. Latter region had been ceded to China by Pakistan in 1963 following border agreement.
Encouraged by their success in snuffing out Khalistan Movement in East Punjab, the Indian security forces wanted to repeat their success story in occupied Kashmir as well. With that motive in mind, they unleashed a reign of terror and torture in their futile bid to subdue the freedom struggle waged by the valiant Muslims of occupied Kashmir since October 1989.
Pakistan could do little to help the Kashmiris in duress since India aligned itself with USA in 1991 while Pakistan fell from grace of USA. Taking advantage of Pak-US frosty relations, India tried hard to project freedom movement in Kashmir as Pakistan backed terrorism. The US supported India’s point of view and put Pakistan on the terrorist watch list. New rules framed on terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11 and Pakistan’s deep involvement in war on terror on its own soil made things even more difficult for Pakistan to pay due attention to Kashmir. Having effectively fenced and fortified the LoC through troop deployment, posts and mines, and spread a network of intelligence operatives and overstuffed the small valley with 700,000 troops, together with imposition of black laws and license to kill suspected militants and sympathizers in fake encounters, it became near impossible for Kashmiri Mujahideen based in AJK to go across into occupied Kashmir. Musharraf’s out of box idea and division of APHC by India with the help of Musharraf weakened the freedom movement.
From 2008 onwards, Pakistan faced multiple crises. It was confronted with futile war on terror, foreign backed insurgents and terrorists, resettlement of flood affecters, crumbling economy and unstable political and social conditions. In the wake of Mumbai attacks, India’s posture became highly belligerent and it was fully backed by USA and western world. Pakistan neither had the resources or the stamina to stretch its neck out and fish in troubled waters. Troop density in Kashmir is unprecedented. Kashmir has become the most militarized territory in the world. The ratio of troop to civilian comes to 1:7. No trouble spot in the world has so many troops and that too in so small a valley. When the valley got engulfed with unarmed movement by the youth following Amarnath Shrine Board incident in 2008, and got more explosive in 2009, 2010 and 2011 owing to participation of small kids with stones in their hands chanting Azadi slogans, the world took little notice of indiscriminate use of force by Indian forces against unarmed civilians, including children, women and elderly people. Large number of teenagers got killed. India didn’t allow international human rights groups and humanitarian organizations to visit the open prison. The US and western media remained mute. The US State Department expressed its usual bias by issuing occupied Kashmir map recently in which AJK was shown as part of it.
Indian leaders keep harping that J&K is integral part of India and keep seeking a solution within Indian constitution. It has always resorted to cosmetic measures and avoided result oriented talks. Indian FM Krishna came to Islamabad last year for talks without a mandate and without any liberty of action. It is often said that dialogue is the only solution for Kashmir dispute. The big question is that India who has the key follows a single track policy. It doesn’t consider Kashmir a disputed territory and insists that Kashmir is an integral part of India and doesn’t changes its stance under any circumstance and also doesn’t allow third party mediation or facilitation. Its sole aim is to keep buying time and hoping that the other two stakeholders would get exhausted and give up. With such a perverse mindset, resolution of Kashmir dispute through process of dialogue is not possible.
Instead of solving the dispute, India is taking full advantage of Pakistan’s precarious internal security situation and tumbling economy and is not only playing Balochistan card to force Islamabad to lay its hands off Kashmir but has also embarked upon a comprehensive welfare oriented program in Kashmir Valley known as Operation Sadbhavana. This program had been initiated in Ladakh in 2000 and is now being pursued by 15 Corps Commander Lt Gen Hussain from 2008 onwards to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiris. The youth are being recruited in police and CRPF. Military commanders are interacting with students and impressing upon them not to take part in armed or unarmed protest movements and are offering them incentives. These measures have apparently helped in defusing unarmed movement which had become explosive. Even refugees based in AJK are being induced with a package of rupees ten lacs to return to their homes and many have returned. They are also being helped in getting settled in Europe or USA. Purpose is to weaken the base camp in AJK. Notwithstanding India’s pacification measures, Indian military’s brutality against those seeking freedom or absorption into Pakistan is continuing as heretofore. Entire families of freedom fighters including the returnees from AJK are being systematically eliminated. In addition, Hindus from Ladakh and India are being settled in the valley to gradually change the demography.