Table of Contents
   Index
   About the Author
   Preface
   Islamabadisation
   The Abdullah Dynasty
   A Journey into History
   Kashmiri Pandits
   The Myth of Negligence
   Mullaism
   Mortgaged Media
   Siege by Scandal
   The 'Inhuman' Rights
   The Valley of Oddity
   This Happened to KPs
   Exaggerated Reporting
   Appendix

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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CHAPTER 1

Islamabadization

Sponsored terrorism in Kashmir did not originate from thin air. Its seeds had sprouted there during the 22-year-long political existence of the Plebiscite Front that was formed way back in 1953. However, a phenomenal rise in secessionist youth politics came about following the 1964-movement on the issue of the holy relic of Hazratbal.

It was on December 27, 1963 when a mass upsurge empted in Srinagar following the disclosure, a day earlier, that a sacred relic - the hair believed to have come from the head of Prophet Mohammad - had been stolen from the Hazratbal shrine, located on the periphery of the capital. The relic (the Moe-i-Muqaddas), kept in a small tube of glass and ritually exhibited only ten times a year, remaining locked in 2 wooden cupboard otherwise, had been sent to Kashmir by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707). Its theft resulted in a public outcry in Srinagar. It was widely believed that Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad who had succeeded Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as the Prime Minister of Kashmir but had been forced to relinquish the chair a few months earlier was somehow involved in the outrage. As a result, cinema houses and other property belonging to Bakshi and the members of his family were set ablaze.

The relic was restored on January 3, 1964 as mysteriously as it was stolen a week before. But during the intervening period, wailing throngs of about a lakh of people swirled through the snow-clad roads of Srinagar. The law and order machinery in the Valley was paralysed. Curfew was clamped over the summer capital. Throughout January, tension continued to mount in Srinagar as the mere announcement of the return of the Moe-i-Muqaddas failed to pacify the sentiments of the populace. Calm was reslored only after a special verification ceremony was held to establish that what had been recovered was really the hair of the Prophet and not a substitute.

The incident of the missing relic brought back the mullas (Muslim clergy), after about five decades, to the center stage of political activities and they succeeded in re-emerging as a force to reckon with in the State politics. And they continue to remain so even today. Priests joined hands with political leaders to organise what was called the Holy Relic Action Committee. They transformed the agitation into secessionist political platform. Even after the holy relic crisis had blown over, the committee was converted into the Action Cornmittee which pursued a political campaign for the release of Sheikh Abdullah and calling for a plebiscite to sort out the Kashmir imbroglio. Pakistan eagerly extended its support to this committee which had already established liaison with the Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Besides moral support, Pakistan helped the committee with money and information gathered by its intelligence service which was active in the Valley.

By mid-1965, however, the moderate leaders such as Maulana Masoodi, Maulana Noor-ud-Din and G. M. Kara had been sidelined and hawks took over the leadership of the Action Committee which by then had become a forum for disgruntled political leaders, mullas and fundamentalists. The Moe-i-Muqaddas crisis was followed by the release of Sheikh Abdullah who was once again arrested on May 8, 1965 following his virulent outbursts against India during his visits abroad including Pakistan. The Action Committee which was also known as the Awami Action Committee under the leadership of teenager Maulvi Farooq made attempts to mobilise the people of Kashmir by calling upon them to throng, the streets demanding the release of Sheikh Abdullah and accession of the State with Pakistan though the Maulvi was a political rival of the Sheikh.

Capitalising on the opportunity, Pakistan evolved a plan to use the Action Committee for spearheading an anti-India revolt in the Valley. Eighteen years after the first invasion of Kashmir, Pakistan launched its second one in 1965, known as "Operation Gibraltar".

The name selected for the operation, Gibraltar, is in itself instructive, since it clearly referred to 'Tariq', the nom de guerre adopted in 1947 (at the time of the first invasion of Kashmir by Pakistan) after the Arab conqueror, after whom Gibraltar is in fact named. The Planning for the Operation Gibraltar may well have started as early as 1964, not long after the Moe-i-Muqaddas crisis. A number of training camps were eventually established, mainly in Azad Kashmir (Pak-occupied Kashmir) and in Punjab. Volunteers were recruited from the Pakistan Army as well as from Kashmiris in Azad Kashmir and elsewhere in Pakistan. The first batch of 'mujahideen', it would seem, began to cross the cease-fire line in small groups during the winter of 1964-65. The tempo of infiltration increased during the first half of 1965 and reached its climax in July and August that year.

The whole scheme of the Gibraltar and its associated operations nevertheless suffered from a number of serious flaws. First, the Kashmiri population on the Indian side of the cease-fire line was not prepared to rise up in open rebellion. Demonstrations over Islamic issues, as in the case of the missing Moe-i-Muqaddas, were one thing and taking on the Indian Army quite another. It also detested the non-Kashmiri speaking infiltrators and was afraid of losing its identity.

Early in August l965, the second phase of the plan - referred to as "Operation Malta" by the Indian intelligence - began to be implemented. It took off well. Press reports made it clear that a serious campaign of sabotage and ambush was now going on in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Bridges were being blown up and police stations attacked. Shots were fired in Srinagar itself. All this, the Pakistan Government declared, demonstrated that a state of rebellion existed across the cease-fire line. And, on August 8, the Voice of Kashmir radio went on the air to announce the formation of a Kashmir Revolutionary Council to lead a war of liberation from "Indian oppression". The Indian Government denied any rebellion. It blamed the troubles on Pakistan, which had been fuelling the troubles by dispatching infiltrators, many of whom had been identified as regular Pakistani Army officers.

The hostilities between the two countries erupted into a full-scale war on September 6. It was only after eighteen days that a cease-fire was announced on the intervention of the United Nations. In the process, Pakistan was badly mauled. The guerrilla movement launched by Pakistan failed in the Valley because the infiltrators were not Kashmiris. However, the misfired guerrilla adventure by Pakistan had its impact on the restless youth of Kashmir. It infected them with pseudo-rebellious romanticism that lead to terrorism, intimidation, explosions and assassination. The trend trickled down to the young, the ill-educated, the lumpen-proletarians and the pseudo-intellectuals.

A senior Army commander told his officers in Srinagar, as early as August 1965, that the next phase of the Kashmir struggle would not be against organised power but routed via murder and terrorism. Subsequent events proved his observation prophetic.

Though these attempts by Pakistan failed initially, the discernible fillip they had given to secessionist activities, particularly among youngsters was undeniable. Notwithstanding the defeat, the Pak-abetted secessionism continued. Under the patronage of Mirza Afzal Beg, founder of the Plebiscite Front and a close associate of Sheikh Abdullah, pro-secessionist youth organisations flourished but mutual bickering soon overtook them.

In 1967 a major incident of terrorism was recorded in the State when some young men were arrested for allegedly attempting to murder a jawan of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the Nawa Kadal area in downtown Srinagar. They were tried in camera before a special court. The case which later came to be known as the Nawa Kadal Conspiracy Case, was, however, withdrawn in 1975 when Sheikh Abdullah once again took over the reins of the Government.

The fragmentation of youth organisations and their multiplicity infused an element of militancy in a majority of them. In 1968, a group of young men from Gandhi Memorial College decided to start an armed struggle in the State. They crept into the Islamia College premises in the dead of night and tried to steal rifles from a room where the National Cadet Corps stored its armoury. However, the watch-man of the college grappled with the intruders and nabbed one of them. Eight persons were arrested. They were also tried in camera. This case, known as the Islamia College Conspiracy Case, however, provided an opportunity to Mirza Afzal Beg, president of the Plebiscite Front, to earn same political mileage by espousing the cause of the arrested young men. This case too was withdrawn with the return of Sheikh Abdullah to power in 1975.

A group of intellectuals, mostly teachers, were also arrested in 1967 for having established links with Mohammad Maqbool Butt - the founder of the Kashmir Liberation Front - who had been arrested for the murder of Amar Chand Pandit, an officer of the intelligence wing of the State Police, in the border district of Baramulla. Later, Butt was hanged in Delhi's Tihar Jail. This band of teachers was considered the 'core group' of the Kashmir Liberation Front. The members of this group were detained under the Defence of India Rules and the Preventive Detention Act. They were released after a couple of years. Almost all, but for a small hard-core, bade adieu to politics and resumed their respective professions. Some of them, however, formed educational societies or social organisations to give vent to their thoughts and feelings.

It was in January 1971 that the authorities unearthed a gang of subversives who had planned large-scale subversion in the State. The organisation behind the subversive activities was identified as "Al Fateh" which emerged as a well-organised and close-knit militant organisation with a plan to 'liberate Kashmir by resorting to armed struggle'. During the night of January 8, about 350 leaders and supporters of the Plebiscite Front were arrested under the Preventive Detention Act. The evidence showed them deeply involved in the subversive activities under the aegis of the Al Fateh. On January 25, the First Secretary of the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi, Zafar Iqbal Rathore. was declared a persona non grata as he was found involved in the activities of the Al Fateh. The police stated that the Al Fateh had been formed way back in 1968 as part of the sustained Pakistani campaign to destabilise the State. Pakistan supplied it with arms and explosives and supervised its training. It was in touch with various movements in the State, particularly student organisations and the Plebiscite Front. It looted banks and raided Government offices and planned not only the kidnapping of at least two ministers, but also the assassination of the State Chief Minister, G.M. Sadiq.

In the meantime, Sheikh Abdullah, Mirza Afzal Beg and G.M. Shah, son-in-law of the Sheikh, were served with externment orders, forbidding them from visiting the State of Jammu & Kashmir for three months. After about three weeks of the mass arrest of Al Fateh activists, on January 30, 1971 at 1305 hours an Indian aeroplane, Fokker Friendship (F 27) VT-DMM belonging to the Indian Airlines and named Ganga, en route from Srinagar to Jammu, landed at Lahore airport under the control of two hijackers - young Kashmiris, who were apparently armed with a hand grenade and a pistol. The aircraft carried, apart from the crew (four in all including its Captain), 26 passengers. The two hijackers, through a local spokesman, demanded that they be granted asylum in Pakistan; that the Government of India release 36 political prisoners said to be members of lhe Kashmir Liberation Front, and further, that New Delhi guarantee that the families of the two hijackers in Kashmir would in no way be harmed.

The crew and passengers of Ganga returned to India by road via Amritsar on February 1 as an Indian aircraft was not allowed landing facilities by the Pak authorities to bring them back. India demanded the immediate return of Ganga, which had been parked in a remote corner of Lahore airport. But one of the hijackers managed to set fire to the aircraft. The landing of Ganga caused mass enthusiasm in Lahore. Big crowds converged at the airport to see the hijacked plane. The two hijackers were treated as national heroes. On January 31, Z.A. Bhutto visited the airport and embraced the two hijackers as true champions of the Pakistani cause. After five days, he issued a statement to the effect that the hijackers were "two brave men" and their deed demonstrated that "no power on earth can stifle the Kashmiris' struggle for liberation." The Pak authorities justified the hijacking which they described as the direct result of repressive measures taken by the Government of India in Kashmir.

Investigations into the incident by the Pak authorities, including a commission of inquiry headed by Justice Noor-ul-Arfin, concluded that India had a great deal to do with this strange episode. It was cited that G.M. Sadiq, the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, himself on February 2 had stated publicly that the whole hijacking episode was an Indian plot and one of the two hijackers was an agent of Indian intelligence. So the question remains why after two days of such announcement by Sadiq, Z.A. Bhutto hailed the action of 'the two brave men'. In fact, an Indian news agency, UNI, had flashed the story of the involvement of an Indian intelligence agent in the hijacking on the very day it occurred. Even that foreknowledge did not, however, dampen the spirit of enthusiasts at Lahore.

Alastair Lamb, the most steadfast supporter of the Pak stand and action in Kashmir, states that, "When the Ganga landed at Lahore airport on January 30, the local Pakistan police were extremely suspicious about the two hijackers. For one thing, it was discovered that they were armed with toy weapons which were anything but lethal (the hand grenade was made of wood). For another, it appeared that the passengers were either Indian service personnel in 'Mufti' or their families. Finally, it transpired that the aircraft in question was the oldest of its type in the fleet of the Indian Airlines, was in a poor state of maintenance and lacked certain items of equipment usually carried on such aircraft." How absurd an inference!

A lull in terrorist activities was recorded following the 14-day war between India and Pakistan in December 1971 in which the latter had to suffer a humiliating defeat and the bifurcation of Pakistan ensued, giving birth to a new nation called Bangladesh which had hitherto been known as East Pakistan. Terrorists, coupled with fundamentalist forces who preferred to lie low, however, lost no opportunity to vent their pent-up anti-India feelings.

A typical example was the violence in May 1973. A publication, Arthur Mee's Book of Knowledge: Children's Encyclopedia, was discovered in a college library in Anantnag shortly before May 17 in 1973. It was a work of monumental blandness, which did, however, contain a drawing of Prophet Mohammad to whom the Archangel Gabriel was dictating portions of the holy Quran. Somehow this came to be noticed by the obscurantist who were out to point out that such representation Constituted blasphemy. Students in Anantnag held a demonstration on May 17 in protest against the authorities for permitting this obnoxious publication. The State Governement lost no time in banning the book, but it was too late. By May 20, the trouble had spread to Srinagar where a wave of strikes and students marches broke out (in which placards demanding 'hang the author' were displayed). Other expressions of public outrage broke out against both India (which was alleged to have permitted the import of the publication) and the U. K (which was held responsible for its existence in the first place). All shops were forcibly closed. Public transport was brought to a halt. An attempt was made to burn down the branch of the Lloyd's Bank (which later merged with the Grindlays Bank) at the Bund, owned by the British. A church of the North Church of India (Diocese of Amritsar) at Sonawar was torched. Another church near Cantonment was threatened. The police opened fire on demonstrators and there were a number of deaths. The book in question had been acquired by a missionary school in Anantnag way back in 1911 which then had found its way to the college library where it had languished in anonymity for decades.

Syed Mir Qasim had been sworn in as the Chief Minister of the State following the death of G.M. Sadiq in December 1971 In his memoirs, Qasim mentions: "A number of Al Fateh members were arrested in Srinagar and put on trial on January 10,1972. I was under pressure from the parents of the arrested youths to give a humanitarian consideration to their case. When I studied their case histories, l was upset at the kind of crimes they had committed. l was after all a father and, therefore, could not take refuge under the cold crime-and-punishment principle. I told the State Assembly on March 25, 1972, I can swear that I suffer the same pain as do the parents of these young people. It is not the fault of these youths; but it is the responsibility of those institutions and practices which were not constructive."

"An exemplary punishment would do no good either to society or to these young people. I, therefore, wanted to reform them. I called the DIG, Kashmir Police, to explain my stand on this matter. We released the youths, whose crimes were minor, and sent the rest to the Central Prison in Srinagar, where special care was given to their health and education. They were given all the facilities to prepare themselves for school or university examination. Kashmir University and the Board of School Education were instructed to make arrangements for holding examinations in the prison. Science students were taken to the laboratory of the S. P. College, Srinagar, for practicals. I am happy to say that this policy brought a positive revolution in the lives of the condemned youths. The Director General of Police, Pir Ghulam Hasan Shah, played a remarkable role in the mission."

Mohammad Altaf Khan alias Azam Inquilabi, one of the prominent terrorist leaders during the current phase of terrorism, was also a member of the Al Fateh. Meanwhile, the Al Fateh saw itself divided into two hostile groups, one owing allegiance to the leaders of the Plebiscite Front while the other was against Sheikh Abdullah. This organisation was also more or less wound up after the Kashmir Accord in 1975 between Mirza Afzal Beg, the representative of Sheikh Abdullah, and G. Parthasarthy, the representative of Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. The accord saw Qasim resigning to pave the way for Sheikh Abdullah's return as the Chief Minister of the State.

Meanwhile, the People's League, a new secessionist, organisation emerged on the scene. Basically an anti-accession organisation, it opposed the Kashmir Accord. However, it soon split into two groups, one striving for an Islamic state while the other demanding an Islamic Socialist state, a concept coined by Z.A. Bhutto. Azam Inquilabi had already left the League in 1974 to form Islamic Students and Youth Organisation which was later rechristened as the Islamic Jamiat-e-Tulba.

The 1977 Assembly elections, described unanimously by the observers as free and fair for the first time in the State, gave a jolt to the pro-Pak youth movement. The influence of the People's League remained restricted to only a handful of hard-core leaders such as Farooq Rehmani. In the meantime, Azam Inquilabi found his way on the payrolls of the Government as a teacher.

After the death of Sheikh Abdullah in 1982, his son, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, inherited the mantle. The secessionist groups resumed their activities. Dr. Farooq, who was considered a moderate, tried to drive home the fact that he was bold enough to take on the Centre, whereas the political minions within the State were no match for him. He attempted to meet the challenge of the Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat) by haranguing that he, too, could talk about "saving Muslims" in the same vein as Jamaat leaders did in their political utterances. It was plainly a question of one-upmanship in the vote-catching game. And, since it was election time, victory was very important to him personally.

The hustings ensued. The Congress (I) and the National Conference locked horns with each other. In mid-1983 Indira Gandhi came to Srinagar to address election rallies of the Congress (I) .The Iqbal Park in Srinagar was jam-packed with people. After the addresses were delivered by the State leaders. Mrs. Gandhi rose to speak. As she began, she was somewhat taken aback by what she saw. Looking straight ahead across the pandal she saw some young men in the nude. However, she continued with her address, and said: "There is such stark poverty here that there are people who have not even enough to wear. That is why some of them are going about stark naked."

A mob shouting pro-National Conference slogans went on the rampage in Srinagar on May 19,1983, stoned the State Congress (I) headquarters and later set it ablaze. The top floor of the building was gutted. About fifty Congressmen including Mohd. Shafi Qureshi, former Union Minister were injured. The mob entered the Congress office, smashed furniture and destroyed the party's election material. Two of the three vehicles were also whisked away. The violence was reminiscent of the 1977 Assembly elections when the National Conference supporters raided the office of the Janata Dal after electioneering and damaged it.

The National Conference, led by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, emerged victorious in the elections. Dr. Farooq was sworn in the Chief Minister. Immediately after the 1983 elections, which supporters of the Congress (I) maintained had been rigged against them, there were riots in Srinagar. A 24-hour curfew was clamped following the injury of hundreds of people in clashes between the supporters of the National Conference and their opponents.

In October 1983, during a cricket match in Srinagar between India and the visiting West Indies, garbage was hurled on to the pitch and a section of the crowd, evidently representing powerful Muslim feelings, chanted anti-India slogans. As the match was in progress the Indian players faced a very hostile crowd - mostly young students, belonging to the Jamiat-e-Tulba and the J&K People's League - who were determined to create mischief on the occasion ostensibly on their home ground. These boys had green crescent flags in their hands and waved them whenever they wanted to applaud the Carribeans. Many of the National Conference workers felt that Chief Minister Dr. Farooq, who himself was present throughout the match - had he so wished - could have prevented such mischief in the first place.

Farooq's ministry toppled in July l984 subsequent to defections from his party. His brother-in-law - the husband of his eldest sister Khalida - G. M. Shah succeeded him as the Chief Minister. His faction of the party, known as the National Conference (Khalida) in alliance with the Congress (I) formed the Government. An Airbus was hijacked from Srinagar airport in his tenure. Relating the incident, Khem Lata Wakhlu wrote: "The plane was forced (by Sikh terrorists) to land at Lahore airport in Pakistan. The incident became a highly sensitive issue for the whole nation. Soon after the incident, I was called to Delhi in connection with a meeting of the Tourism Ministry at the Centre. I called on Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on this occasion. Besides talking about matters related to tourism and State politics, she herself raised the hijacking incident and said, 'A Pakistani national was present in that flight. He had been in Srinagar and had made contact with Dr. Farooq and his group with the intention of plotting something. Mohi-ud-Din Shah and Pyare Lal Handoo (two colleagues in the Farooq's Ministry) had gone to the airport to see off the Pakistani national. The hijacking was planned to see that the gentleman safely landed in Pakistan." Mohi-ud-Din Shah is a nephew of G.M. Shah, the then Chief Minister.

The situation was very grave. The damage had been done. As per the admission of Dr. Farooq the first batch of youth had gone to receive training in arms across the border immediately after his unceremonious ouster from power. The "Operation Topac" mounted by Zia-ul-Haq, President of Pakistan, was a well-planned and sophisticated effort to infiltrate the Pak-trained saboteurs into all branches of the Kashmir Government, and to expose the entire population to a sustained anti-India propaganda for a length of time. It was calculated to lead on to a Well-organised sabotage, terror and public demonstrations aimed at bringing down the entire functioning of the State apparatus to a grinding halt and timed with a Qabayali-type invasion from across the border.

The Congress honeymoon with the National Conference (Khalida) came to an end on March 6, 1986 when the former withdrew its support to the Shah Ministry. The next day Shah resigned. Governor's Rule was clamped on the State and the Assembly was kept in a state of animated abeyance. By November the same year, the suspension of the Assembly was revoked and Dr. Farooq Abdullah was sworn in as the Chief Minister again, in alliance with the Congress (I). Subsequently, the Assembly was dissolved and fresh elections announced.

Against this backdrop, the Muslim United Front, an alliance of the fundamentalist and pro-Pakistan elements emerged on the political scene. Its formation and timing was a master stroke of the 'Inter Services Intelligence' of Pakistan. Its hard-core - mainly youth - already had their first groundings in Afghan Mujahideen encounters and returned to the Valley on the eve of 1987 elections. Some of them had participated in the Anantnag communal riots in February 1986 during the Shah's tenure as the Chief Minister.

The secessionist groups further received a shot in the arm when the Assembly elections in 1987 were rigged under the supervision of Dr. Farooq Abdullah and in connivance with Rajiv Gandhi's Government at the Centre. A large number of young men who were actively involved in the elections in support of the candidates of the Muslim United Front (MUF) were left dejected and frustrated. Their leaders were those who in connivance with Dr. Farooq were in the forefront of burning down the Congress office at Srinagar in May 1983. They deserted the mainstream and strengthened the ranks of pro-Pak elements who did not lag behind in taking advantage of the situation.

The overt and covert support of Dr. Farooq Abdullah and some of his ministerial colleagues, after the unceremonious ouster of the Farooq Ministry in 1984, had already strengthened subversives who, however, deserted Dr. Farooq Abdullah as soon as he came back to power following the Rajiv-Farooq Accord.

Regarding the strength of militant groups or secessionist forces or terrorist outfits, it is interesting to recall that a few years ago when Azam Inquilabi held a Press conference at Srinagar, a newsman asked him about the strength of his organisation. Pat came the reply: "I am the President, the General Secretary and the Working Committee of my organisation." More-or-less the situation was the same with such groups till 1987. Shabir Shah, another terrorist leader who was arrested in late 1989, did not offer any resistence at the time of his arrest. Interestingly enough, no arms and ammunitions were seized from him. Evidence supported the rumour that the arrest was a "stage-managed show". Shabir Shah had surrendered before the intelligence men because he apprehended a threat to his life on account of the ongoing in-fighting between various groups.

Azam Inquilabi, in an article in a popular Kashmir Urdu weekly in 1989, refuted an 'insinuation' that the Al Fateh had been used by the Indian Government to condemn and crush Kashmiris. He said that following the failure of Pakistan to capture Kashmir in 1965, he had set up a guerrilla body known as the Muslim Liberation Front in 1967 which continued to struggle for a year. He claimed that he was personally involved in the manufacture and use of bombs. He said: "India did not understand the language of peace. We again went underground in 1974. That is what has now come up as the culture of Kalashnikov guns in the Valley during the last one year". Today, he claimed, thousands of Kashmiri youth are ready to take up arms. All these Al Jihad, Al Maqbool, Muquadas Jang, Hizb-e-Allah, Hizb-e-Islam, Allah Tigers, Al Khomeini are the same Al Fateh.

A tragic incident which occurred in the old city of Srinagar in 1989 was a pointer to the turn of events. An 18-year-old boy took out a pistol and showed it to his aunt proclaiming with some bravado: "Look, with this weapon we are going to win freedom." His aunt merely laughed it away, thinking he was just joking and said, "Keep quiet. We have seen many heroes like you before. You mean to win freedom with this pistol." She said this in a sarcastic tone believing the pistol to be a toy. The young man was infuriated over her remarks. Without any ado, he pulled the trigger and shot his aunt in the thigh shouting angrily: "You will never think again that the weapon was a fake."

However, not more than fifty-five casualties were reported in the violent incidents which rocked the Valley between July 1988 and November 1989 in the wake of the spurt in terrorist activities. Replying to a question from Peerzada Ghulam Ahmed Shah, a legislator, Dr. Farooq Abdullah informed the State Assembly that seventy-two blasts took place between January and July 1989. He added that five persons were killed and fifty-two injured in those blasts. Damage was caused due to fifty-one explosions. The Chief Minister, who was also holding the portfolio of Home, said that (till then) one hundred and fifty-seven persons had been arrested out of them eighty were trained in Pakistan or Pak-occupied Kashmir and seventy-seven were those who acted as motivators or collaborators or harbourers etc. He added that twenty-three persons were released on parole on the eve of the Id in 1989.

The situation in early 1989 was not as bad as projected even though the Chief Minister himself once described the situation as 'warlike'. The regrettable part, however, was that the local police did not possess the will to deal with the situation. In a close-knit society - as is in Kashmir - the police force including some officers and militants are not unknown to each other. In some cases they are even related to each other. Some of the policemen and officers in fact, had participated in anti-accession movements during their student days.

The administration was equally panic-stricken during those days. When Shabir Shah was arrested, the Deputy Commissioners of Srinagar and Anantnag declined to sign the warrant of arrest under the Public Safety Act. The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir region, had to do that job, instead.

A list of 'awardees', announced by Al Mujahid, an outfit of terrorists, on the first death anniversary of Aijaz Ahmed Dar - an alleged terrorist in 1989 - gave an indication of active leaders of terrorists in the Valley. The awardees included Mohammad Yaseen Malik, Ashfaq Majid, Abdul Hamid Sheikh, Javed Nalqa, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar alias Latram, Mohammad Iqbal Gundroo, Mohammad Ashraf, Abdul Aziz Sheikh and Shabir Ahmed Shah.

On September 15, 1989, Tak Lal Taploo, Vice-President of the Jammu & Kashmir Bharatiya Janata Party was shot dead near his Srinagar home by two unidentified gunmen. Taploo was so popular that even burqa-clad Muslim women attended his funeral. He was fearless and was the only spokesman of Hindu chauvinistic forces in the Valley. After about two months, Neel Kanth Ganjoo, a retired sessions judge who had pronounced the death sentence upon terrorist Maqbool Butt, was shot dead in broad daylight on a busy Hari Singh High Street. Though about forty witnesses - all Muslims - had deposed against Butt, Justice Ganjoo was singled out as a target of vengeance.

Earlier, on August 21, Mohammad Yusuf Halwai, a prominent leader of the National Conference, was gunned down in broad daylight by masked terrorists at Kalaspora in the old city. While he was bleeding to death, people watched in dread, and nobody dared to take him to the hospital. The terror-stricken neighbourhood of shopkeepers was shivering with fear. And at that time Assembly session was in progress.

In the morning of December 1, Saifulla Lone, an upright Station House Officer of the Maisuma police station in the old city, was shot dead on his way to a nearby mosque. His body lay on the road for several hours. Nobody, including the police staff, could dare touch it. Later, terrorists themselves off-loaded the body onto a hand-cart and carried it to the police station.

Even as early as in July in her dispatch to the India Week, a tabloid weekly, Aasha Khosa wrote: 'In Srinagar, the Bohri Kadal locality in the old city is recognised as a militant's stronghold. It is here that pro-Pakistan extremists make their presence felt time and again. They have struck at least four times in a period of two years. The congested locality is also conducive to their actions. They strike fast and make good their escape, leaving confused Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel to launch a fruitless hunt in the narrow and labyrinthine bylanes of the area. And it is here that they struck again on the evening of July 13, the eve of Id and the day the city pays homage to the martyrs killed in the popular 1931 uprising against the monarchy. Their latest success left two CRPF men and an eight-year-old boy dead, and a dozen others injured. It also shattered the fragile peace in the troubled city.

"Terrorists, according to eyewitnesses, arrived in three groups and took up positions at some of the narrow outlets from the locality, near the police station. They were ready well before the ill-fated CRPF truck arrived on the scene on what was a routine patrol, and intelligence sources say that they were even served tea and biscuits by a resident of the area while they waited. When the CRPF truck rumbled into sight, militants opened fire with their Kalashnikovs, killing two CRPF men on the spot.

"All hell broke loose on the crowded streets. The CRPF jawans opened fire in retaliation even as people ran helter-skelter. Caught in the cross-fire was the eight-year-old boy who later died. Another twelve Civilians were injured. But quick as they were, the CRPF could not match the killers on home turf. Their Kalashnikovs now slung across their shoulders, they slipped into the densely populated locality and sprinted down the narrow bylanes to lose themselves in the vicinity of the graveyard near the Hari Parbat hillock, a Hindu shrine. Their attempt to nab the killers of their colleagues having failed, the CRPF men ran amok, beating up people and arbitrarily raiding houses in the locality." Later, the Chief Minister informed the Assembly that after the death of CRPF jawans in an ambush by subversives in the evening of July 13, there was a cross-firing between the CRPF jawans and the subversives as a result of which five civilians died. Such cases became tools in the hands of human rights activists who would not dare to condemn the attack on the CRPF jawans but would shed tears over the 'brutalities' of the security forces in such incidents.

Subversives were bestowed with a grand success by politicians of different shades as their call to boycott the Lok Sabha elections in November 1989 received an overwhelming response. The politicians refused to counter subversives politically, though a survey, conducted by the Global Topic, a local English language monthly, revealed that 51 per cent of the respondents to a questionnaire did not support the boycott call, while 1.5 per cent were non-committal. The National Conference bagged the Srinagar seat uncontested while a mere 5.11 per cent polling was registered in the Anantnag constituency as the boycott call by terrorists had lengthened its shadow over the Valley. The same was the situation in Baramulla where only 5.47 per cent votes were cast.

In fact, the process of being reduced to political irrelevance was completed for the National Conference, as it grandly and gravely failed to meet the challenge posed by terrorists, politically. Barring a few isolated areas where some National Conference legislators, including ministers, rose to the occasion and succeeded in ensuring some polling, most of the ruling alliance leaders yielded before subversives for obvious reasons. In the Pattan Assembly segment, a predominantly Shia Muslim area, of the Baramullah Lok Sabha constituency, only one vote was cast. Agha Syed Mehmood, a National Conference Minister, represented the constituency in the Assembly. The same area is also considered a stronghold of Maulvi Iftikhar Ansari, a Congress (I) Minister, who represented the constituency in the State Assembly once by defeating the National Conference candidate. However, the credit goes to G.R. Kar, a Minister in the National Conference-Congress coalition Government, headed by Dr. Farooq Abdullah. He was busy in Bihar canvassing for the Congress (I) candidates in the Lok Sabha elections, but returned home to Sopore to cast his vote. His five family members, including his wife, also cast their votes.

Soon after the Lok Sabha elections which saw the Janata Dal Government in power, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, a Kashmiri, was given the Home portfolio in the Union Cabinet. Within a few days on December 8, 1989, Dr. Rubayya Sayeed, the youngest daughter of the Mufti, was kidnapped by subversives while she was on her way home in a public transport from Lal Ded Hospital, a few km away. The kidnappers demanded the release of five detenues including a Pak national. After a five-day drama, the detenues were released in exchange for the safe release of the hostage. The release of the daughter of the Home Minister of the Government of India led to a burst of terrorism in the Valley. It was a day of joy, excitement and celebration in the ranks of subversives and they openly celebrated the occasion. They got a hero's welcome - dancing, folk songs and welcome arches adorned their processions. People raised their hands in a 'V for victory' sign and sang songs of freedom. And gradually, imperceptibly, the people were drawn into the fold of extremism. By now thousands of youth had already been sucked into its vortex and it was only natural for their parents and elders to encourage them.

On December 27, P.N. Bhatt, an advocate and newsman, was riddled with bullets and killed on his way home from the court at Anantnag. Before the elections, the terrorist outfits had whipped up Islamic sentiments with a successful call for observing purdah, boycott of motion-pictures in cinema halls and looting and burning liquor shops.

In December 1989, many police personnel were gunned down by subversives. Mustafa Qadri, Assistant Sub-Inspector; O.N. Wattal, Deputy Superintendent of Police and Ali Mohammad Moghlu were shot. Krishan Gopal and Hamidullah Butt of the Police Department also lost their lives along with others. They were not only killed but their cruelly mutilated bodies were also hung from trees on State highways. On February 13, 1990, Lassa Kaul, Director of the Srinagar centre of Doordarshan, was shot dead at the doorsteps of his house. On March 25, Mir Mustafa, a liberal Independent legislator, was hanged, after torture, in captivity. The same day, a notable Communist poet Abdul Sattar Ranjoor was killed near Shopian in Southern Kashmir. On April 6, H.L. Khera, General Manager of the Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) factory - a public sector undertaking - was taken hostage along with Professor Mushir-ul-Haq, Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University and his secretary Abdul Ghani. Professor Haq and his secretary were keeping the Ramzan fast. A group claiming to be the Jammu & Kashmir Students Liberation Front demanded the release of three detenues. As the demand was not fulfilled, Khera was shot dead on April 10 and on the following day the bodies of Mushir-ul-Haq and Abdul Ghani were found in a field on the outskirts of the capital city. The list is unending.

In January, there were buses and trucks moving around in the heart of Srinagar and other towns in the Valley inviting people to take a ride to Islamabad-Rawalpindi. The organisers shouted from the bustops: "Come one, come all. Take a free ride to Islamabad-Rawalpindi. Earn merit and join the jehad." Many young men were lured to go in this spate. Several parents did not even know till their children had left or had been literally whisked away. Some parents even consented to their wards joining the 'jehad' as azadi (Independence) appeared, to them, to be at the doorsteps. The entire atmosphere was vitiated while the government machinery remained paralysed and a mere spectator to this sordid turn-of-events.

A full-scale war ensued during the next few months which is still continuing. During 1989-92 about 2,200 secessionists were killed and about 15,000 apprehended in the violence-rocked Valley and the border areas of the adjoining Jammu region of the State.

In the first half of 1992, the quantum of terrorist violence in the State remained at a high level with continuing attacks on the security forces (between 150-200 incidents per week), explosions, arsons, abductions (between 10-15 incidents per week) and killing of civilians. Even the predominantly Muslim Doda district in Jammu region witnessed stepped up violence. Frequent hartal calls by the terrorist outfits evoked response from civilians, partly out of fear, leading to disruption of normal life. Comparative figures of violence reveal 1,564 killings against 3,905 incidents in 1990 to 1,830 killings against 3,121 incidents in 1991. Terrorists killed 1,585 men and women including 981 Muslims, 218 Hindus, 23 Sikhs, 510 Government officials,363 security personnel and 12 political leaders from January 90 to October 92.

Similarly, sizeable recoveries of weapons and ammunition from subversives in encounters and search operations have continued. As many as 7,000 rifles; 450 machine guns; 400 rocket launchers; 1,000 rockets; 7,000 grenades; 2,450 pistols and revolvers - sufficient to arm a full Army division - were recovered by the security forces from 1990 to '92. Killings of hard-core terrorists continued to reveal the Pakistani connection. In 1989. out of 367 terrorists arrested, 56 acknowledged being trained in Pakistan. In 1990,out of 5,067 arrested as many as 1,054 were trained in Pakistan. Nearly 156 border encounters in 1990 saw 387 terrorists and activists killed and 1,094 arrested while in 1991, 158 similar encounters saw 438 killed and 360 arrested. The strength of the terrorist outfits too swelled to about 10,000 by this period. Among them the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is stated to be 7,000 strong.

A 1ist of the subversive outfits in Kashmir Valley makes interesting reading. The organisations are - Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, People's League, Hizbullah, Hezb-Islami, Hezb-ul-Jehad, Al Umar Mujahideen, Harkat-i-Mujahideen, Islamic Students League, Muslim Students Federation, Allah Tigers, Zia Tigers, Zia Missionary Force, JKLF Students' Wing, Kashmir Students' Liberation Front, Dukhtran-i-Millat, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-e-Tulba, Tehrike-Islami, Al Karbala, Al Khomeini, Shabab-ul-Muslimeen, Zarb-i-Kaleem, Operation Balakote, Victory Liberation Front, Mahazi-Azadi, Muslim Rangers Force, Al-Fateh Force, Zarb-i-Moomin, Kashmir Liberation Movement, Kashmir Liberation Army, Kashmir Liberation Organisation and Muslim Guerrilla Tigers. More and more such outfits have surfaced since then.

Pakistan's overall thrust has been to try and influence these pro-Pakistan merger groups and create conditions which may help them dominate developments in the Valley. For this purpose, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is advising these groups to sabotage the revival of political process through terror tactics and countervailing efforts by the JKLF to assert itself on the independence platform. Islamic postures are sustained under the force of the gun. Terrorists are also egged on to continue intimidation, selective killing of religious minorities and subverting local media reporting to exploit human rights sensitivities.

Due to continuous and effective policing on the Line of Control by the paramilitary forces and the Army, the Pakistanis are finding it difficult to push through the remaining 3,000 to 4,000 trained subversives from Pak-occupied Kashmir. However, smaller groups of twenty to twenty-five have managed to infiltrate through either some of the lesser known routes or thinly policed borders. The Pakistan Army has repeatedly used tactics of diversionary or cover fire along the Line of Control, extending even to a few border skirmishes with the Indian Army and firing on Indian villages in the Kupwara and Poonch sectors. Couriers have, nevertheless, managed to get sizeable stocks of arms and ammunition of Pakistani origin, across to subversives in the Valley. This is borne out by the spate of arms recovered, after surrenders, arrests and disclosures, made by the apprehended activists. Disclosures by arrested subversives have confirmed Pakistan's involvement.

The ISI has had no dearth of funds at its disposal to provide sanctuary, arms training, free supply of weapons and guidance. The 'Kashmir Liberation Cess' was introduced in Pak-occupied Kashmir budget for 1991-'92, ranging from Rs 4 to 300. The ISI also sponsored a separate official organisation called The Kashmir Liberation Cell, headed by Ayaz Ahmed Khan, a retired Air Vice-Marshal and a known hard-liner on Indo-Pak issues. The Kashmir Liberation Cell also collected contributions for organising relief camps for 'Kashmiri refugees'. Funds from this organisation also reached the ISI for military training. Other private organisations in Pak-occupied Kashmir as well as in Punjab province of Pakistan have been openly collecting funds for Kashmiri terrorists.

At several training centres across the border, intensive elementary training was reinforced for longer duration and even battle inoculation of intensively committed Islamic cadres with the Jamaat in Pakistan or Hizb-Islami (Hikmatyar) in the Pakhtia, and Nangarhar provinces of Afghanistan was resorted to. Later, these trainees were assisted to infiltrate across the Kashmir border under cover fire. The tasks assigned to them included contacting couriers to locate caches of hidden arms and their clandestine transportation. Better trained recruits among the saboteurs were instigated to target the security forces or vital installations. They were also instigated to try and extend the arc of violence beyond the Valley, to Jammu and even other parts of India.

Nepal has become a base for Pakistan to contact the Valley-based terrorist leaders. The ISI has also sent trained subversives to the Valley via Nepal. After their arrival in Kathmandu by air, arrangements are made to send them across to the Valley by land routes in India, using the fruit carters' trade to circumvent checks en route.

The ISI has also been directly involved in the propagandist activities, aimed at internationalising the Kashmir issue. The Kashmiri American Council (KAC) of Ghulam Nabi Fai in the United States, and the World Jammu & Kashmir Freedom Movement (WJKFM) of Ayub Thukar in U.K. are being used for lobbying support among the US Congressmen, Senators and British parliamentarians and the foreign Press to highlight alleged atrocities and human rights violations by the Indian security forces in Kashmir. The Kashmir International Forum in the UK, headed by Raza Munshi Khan - a protege of the Pak-occupied Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Qayyum - organised an international Kashmir conference at Hotel Hilton on November 17, 1991 with financial assistance from the ISI.

A clandestine radio station - Sada-e-Hurriat-e-Kashmir - has started functioning from across the Line of Control since early 1991. Pakistan has also been resorting to blatant falsehood and misreporting on events in Jammu & Kashmir. It broadcasts specially-tailored distorted programmes on the history of partition to incite disaffection among Kashmiris. Such programmes included Vasal, Jal Raha Hai Kashmir, Kashmir Dastan, the Killing Fields of Kashmir, Kashmir Banega Pakistan and Muqadama-e-Kashmir. Pak TV recently leased a transponder on Asia Sat to strengthen its misinformation campaign against India on the alleged violations of human rights. It also indulged in tampering with programmes of foreign television services and re-telecasting them. It also lifted and tampered with BBC's programme on February 17, 1992 on Jammu & Kashmir which had been telecast on the Star TV. This brought sharp protests from BBC.

The ISI's relationship with the JKLF of Amanullah Khan has come under strain recently. The ISI did not initially oppose Amanullah's plans to organise a pro-independence 'march' across the Line of Control in February-March 1992 but it was put on the defensive after the overwhelming response the march evoked even in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK). It was feared that the demand for secession of PoK from Pakistan may again raise its head. Even the ruling leaders in PoK put pressure on the ISI to curb JKLF's activities. Efforts to sow dissension within the JKLF, through formation of the Farooq Haider (almost defunct) and Rashid Hasrat (now deceased) factions, failed to curb the intransigence of Amanullah Khan. The ISI's directive to the pro-Islamic outfits in the Valley - such as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen - to exterminate JKLF cadres also did not endear it to the JKLF. Nevertheless, Amanullah Khan can only function inside Pakistan and PoK, under the over-all control of the ISI.

In a bid to curb the growth of disunity among various Kashmiri outfits in PoK and Pakistan, the ISI has, of late, increasingly emphasized the need to forge a united platform, both overground and underground. Its another purpose is to provide a political format to what remains essentially a motley phenomenon of the Pak-abetted militancy. It has been named the Tehrik-e-Hurriat-e-Kashmir (THK). It came into existence formally in 1990. One of the Kashmiri activists - Azam Inquilabi of Mahaz-e-Azadi - who went over to PoK in 1989 has been propped up by the ISI to preside over the activities of this forum.

The ominous shadow of the Islamabadisation over the Valley was lengthened as majority of politicians contributed handsomely before and after partition of the Indian subcontinent to worsen the situation. Old-timers recall an incident in this regard. Once closing the arguments in the high court in a case of dismissal of some police sub-inspectors from the service by the State Government, Mirza Afzal Beg, the founder of the Plebiscite Front and a leading lawyer ruined his otherwise strong case by outbursting, "My lord, if you cannot restore the star on the shoulders of these police officers please give them a star and a crescent (an allusion to the Islami flag).

Crescent over Kashmir

 

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