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Whatever it is, Kashmiris believe it is happening for sure

6091
By IANS Updated: Aug 04, 2019 10:50 pm
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Srinagar, Aug. 4 (IANS): What next after nearly every Kashmiri household has stocked for the D-day they believe is imminent? Trifurcation, abrogation of 35A, delimitation, flag hoisting at every panchayat in the valley on August 15 or a full blown, straightaway war between India and Pakistan? No marks for guessing that nobody, not even probably Governor Satya Pal Malik has a straight-faced answer to all this.

Governor Malik, probably for the first time, decided to do a bit of plain speaking when he said on Saturday: “All is well today, I cannot predict tomorrow.”

That exactly is what every other top civil, police, paramilitary and army officer will tell you even if they choose to speak on this issue.

The result has been that the killing of seven terrorists of a Pakistani border action team (BAT) by the army in Keran sector off the Line of Control (LoC) two days back is blown out of proportion by desperate rumourmongers who want to turn Kashmir upside down.

The rumourmongers want Kashmiris to believe that two diplomatically belligerent, nuclear-powered South Asian neighbours would go to war and that would be a Sunday afternoon tea party.

“Around 40,000 Islamic fighters led by Hafeez Sayeed or Azhar Masood have been seen near the LoC in Gurez, which is close to Gilgit-Baltistan. They are waiting to sneak in”. This might look like the fib of an uninformed rumourmonger, but when this comes from someone who claims to have access to inside information, it is natural for Kashmiris to tremble with fear, but just momentarily.

Everyone swept off his/her feet by such a rumour would not miss to question as to how the so-called leaders in the 40,000 such fighters can afford to come on horseback to surprise an army that has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Kargil victory.

Nobody would miss to notice that Gurez, Gulgit and Baltistan are so far away from each other that any sabre-rattling fighter coming on horseback would drop dead of sheer fatigue and back ache.

And, to scotch the rumour finally, the fact that this is not the medieval world, when fighters on horseback would startle and shock each other.

So, the flutter about India and Pakistan going to war is ruled out, at least for the common Kashmiri who is neither dumb nor gullible to believe such a wild rumour.

“The built-up of such a magnitude in the hinterland completely dispels the notion that something serious is happening at the borders. The two countries have been clashing with each other on the LoC ever since they signed the bilateral ceasefire agreement in October 2013, which held wonderfully for just three years after which it has been observed only in its breach,” said a local journalist.

Others, mostly elderly Kashmiris argue that they are too old not to see that something big is in the offing that would alter the constitutional relationship of the state with India.

“I am no strategic expert or analyst. I do not need to be one to tell you that in all likelihood Article 35A looks like going. There is no other explanation for such a built-up. During the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971 and also during the Kargil conflict of 1999, non-locals and those belonging to the Jammu region were not asked to leave the Valley.

“Yatris and tourists were not asked to leave the Valley even during the worst turmoil and strife. They are going to change the constitutional relationship of the state with the rest of the country and that appears to be cut and dry. If all this is done for any photo-op focused around flag hoisting in remote villages of the Kashmir Valley on August 15, then those planning this at such a high pitch and magnitude must be living at the end of their fried nerves,” said Bashir War, a retired veterinarian who served in Kargil district in 1999.

Reports suggest curfew passes have already been issued to staff maintaining essential services in the Valley. Deployments are already in place where they were intended to be, except at some places in the Muslim-dominated areas of the Chenab Valley, including districts of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban.

Would there be a rollback of the intended plan at this stage? Even those who do not know what actually is going to happen, say: “Highly unlikely.”

Amid tensions, Shah chairs security meet

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday presided over a high-level security meeting amid escalating tensions in Jammu and Kashmir where a major security build up has sparked fears and tensions.

The meeting was attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Intelligence Bureau chief Arvind Kumar, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Samant Kumar Goel and senior Home Ministry officials.

Additional Secretary (Jammu and Kashmir Division) Gyanesh Kumar separately briefed the Minister about the situation in Kashmir Valley.

Informed sources said the Minister discussed internal security as well as the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, where the Amarnath Yatra has been curtailed after the government warned of terror threats.

All Amarnath pilgrims as well as tourists have been told to leave “as soon as possible”.

Shah spoke about the preparation to deal with terror attacks and deployment of security establishment in the Kashmir Valley amid inputs that Pakistan-backed terrorists were planning to target the Amarnath Yatra – an annual month-long Hindu pilgrimage which started on June 28 and was to end on August 15, the sources said.

Shah is reportedly planning to visit Jammu and Kashmir. This too was discussed, said a source.

The Home Minister was apprised about the situation on the border where some Pakistani soldiers were killed by Indian forces when they tried to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir on the night of July 31-August 1.

The Minister’s meeting, the abrupt axing of the Amarnath Yatra and the security build up has set off yet another round of speculation about the Modi government’s next move in Jammu and Kashmir.

Residents say that many in the Kashmir Valley are buying up essential goods to prepare for the worst.

6091
By IANS Updated: Aug 04, 2019 10:50:26 pm