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Pakistan turns its guns on Kashmiri minorities during foreign envoys’ visit

A normal day in Srinagar, Kashmir. Is Pakistan resorting to killing minorities in Jammu and Kashmir (IANS)

Dar Javed

As the delegation of envoys from 23 countries concluded their Kashmir visit on Wednesday evening, militants made their presence felt by attacking the son of the owner of a famous eatery, Krishna Dhaba, at Sonawar in uptown Srinagar.

Aakash Mehra (22), son of Ramesh Kumar Mehra, was fired upon by the gunmen when he was busy with his work.

On December 31, 2020, when Kashmir was filled with tourists, militants shot dead a 65-year-old jeweller in Sarai Bala area of Srinagar. The goldsmith Satpal Nischal, son of Amarnath Nischal, owner of Nischal Jewellers living in Indira Nagar area in Srinagar, was fired upon by the militants at his shop.

The deceased was a non-state subject but was living in Kashmir for the past 50 years. He had received the Domicile certificate just a few days before his killing.

Guns of militants turning towards members of the minority community, who stayed in Kashmir even after 1990, indicates the desperation and frustration of their bosses sitting across the Line of Control as all their strategies have failed. Strike calls are not working. Militants are not being allowed to sneak in as they are being neutralised at the LoC itself. People of Kashmir seem least interested in taking part in street protests and becoming a part of the separatist politics.

Businessmen from minority community becoming soft targets, has not gone well with the members of the majority community. After Nischal was killed, Sarai Bala and other areas of the city centre observed a complete shutdown to express solidarity with the bereaved family.

It appears that ISI is trying to repeat 1990. When militants appeared in the streets of the Valley in the nineties, the first thing they did was they carried out selective killings of Kashmiri Pandits which led to their mass exodus from the Valley.

After the scrapping of J&K's special status the union territory has been thrown open for all. Anyone who has been staying in Jammu and Kashmir for the past 15-years is eligible to get a Domicile Certificate. It looks like attacks on members of the minority community are being carried out to create fear psychosis as lakhs of Domicile Certificates have been issued till date. Kashmiris not opposing the new domicile law has disturbed the militant handlers and their bosses.

The huge influx of tourists during the past few months has infused new life into the ailing tourism industry in Kashmir. People are busy with their daily chores and the revival of night life has turned the Valley vibrant once again.

After the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan made desperate attempts to send militants into Kashmir but the robust counter infiltration grid along the Line of Control and alert soldiers foiled the nefarious designs of our rogue neighbor.

After failing on all the fronts the militants are trying to use Improvised Explosive Devices to target the security forces as they are aware of the fact that it's an easy way but the security agencies have been detecting these IEDs and thwarting their plans. On the second anniversary of Pulwama attack this year, Jammu Police arrested an Al Badr militant Suhail and seized 6.5 kilogram IED from him at Jammu bus stand. The arrested militant had been given three to four targets, including the bus stand and railway station. He had been instructed to place the explosive at one of the spots. But the attempt failed.

The developments that have taken place post August 5, 2019—when the Centre announced its decision to bifurcate J&K into two union territories and scrapped the Article 370—have left Pakistan guessing. None of their strategies and plans are working. Their attempts to cause disruption and once again put Kashmir are on fire seem to have no takers. People have outrightly rejected the idea of separatism. No one in Kashmir is talking about Azadi anymore.

Another factor which is proving to be the last nail in the coffin of Pakistan sponsored militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is that the strength of militants is depleting and they are running short of weapons. In the recent past many local militants have given up arms and have returned to the mainstream. Youth seem to be choosing life over death as the realization seems to have dawned upon them that the life span of a militant is too short. Kashmiri youth for a long time have been used by Pakistan as cannon-fodder to fight its own war.

The envoys who visited Kashmir didn't find anything unusual as they were greeted warmly by everyone. People who met them spoke about development and other governance related issues. No curbs on the internet and no strike call on their visit made the envoys feel the change.

It's high time for Pakistan to realise that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has changed for the better and its machinations are not going to work anymore. The handful of militants who have been left cannot survive for long as the fear of the gun is disappearing fast. The attacks on members of the minority community are not going to change the fact that J&K has merged completely with the Union of India and people getting the Domicile Certificates has become a norm. J&K is changing fast and this time around no adversary will be allowed to disrupt the normal life.

(The writer is a student of Craft Management and Entrepreneurship and a resident of Lolab Kupwara. He is doing his research on peace initiatives in Kashmir.)