Violence in Kashmir

This article is about the insurgency in the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir. For the wider conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, see Kashmir Conflict.

Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
Part of the Kashmir conflict
Kashmir : Shown in green is the Kashmiri region under Pakistani control. The dark-brown region represents Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir while the Aksai Chin is under Chinese control.
Date 1989–present
Location Jammu and Kashmir
Result Conflict ongoing, largely subsided
Belligerents
India Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front

Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami
Lashkar-e-Taiba
Jaish-e-Mohammed
Hizbul Mujahideen
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen
Al-Badr
Supported by:
 Pakistan[1]

Commanders and leaders
General Bikram Singh

Lt Gen P C Bhardwaj
ACM N.A.K. Browne Pranay Sahay

Amanullah Khan

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed
Maulana Masood Azhar
Sayeed Salahudeen
Fazlur Rehman Khalil
Farooq Kashmiri
Arfeen Bhai (until 1998)
Bakht Zameen

Strength
325 [5] - 800[6]
Casualties and losses
7,000 police killed[7] 20,000 killed[7]
29,000 [8] –100,000 civilians killed[9][10][11][12]

The insurgency in Kashmir or the Kashmiri Insurgency is an internal conflict between Kashmiri insurgents (some favoring Kashmiri accession to Pakistan, and some favoring Kashmir's complete independence.[13]) and the Government of India and has constituted the main conflict in the Kashmir region since 2002.[14]

The roots of the conflict between the Kashmiri insurgents and the Indian Government are tied to a dispute over local autonomy.[15] Democratic development was limited in Kashmir until the late 1970s and by 1988 many of the democratic reforms provided by the Indian Government had been reversed and non-violent channels for expressing discontent were limited and caused a dramatic increase in support for insurgents advocating violent secession from India.[15] In 1987, a disputed State election[16] created a catalyst for the insurgency when it resulted in some of the state's legislative assembly members forming armed insurgent groups.[17][18][19] In July 1988 a series of demonstrations, strikes and attacks on the Indian Government began the Kashmir Insurgency which during the 1990s escalated into the most important internal security issue in India.

Thousands of people have died[20] during fighting between insurgents and the government as well as thousands of civilians who have died as a result of being targeted by the various armed groups.[21]

The Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan has been accused by India of supporting and training mujahideen.[22][23] to fight in Jammu and Kashmir.[24][25] According to official figures released in Jammu and Kashmir assembly, there were 3,400 disappearance cases and the conflict has left more than 47,000 people dead as of July 2009.[10] However, the number of insurgency-related deaths in the state have fallen sharply since the start of a slow-moving peace process between India and Pakistan.[26]

History of the insurgency

1947–1987

After independence from colonial rule India and Pakistan fought a war over the princely state of Kashmir. At the end of the war India controlled the most valuable parts of Kashmir.[27] While there were sporadic periods of violence there was no organised insurgency movement.[28]

During this period legislative elections in Jammu and Kashmir were first held in 1951 and Sheikh Abdullah’s party stood unopposed. However Sheikh Abdullah would fall in and out of favour with the central government and would often be dismissed only to be re-appointed later on. This was a time of political instability in Jammu and Kashmir and it went through several periods of President's rule by the Federal Government.[29]

1987–2004

After Sheikh Abdullah’s death, his son Farooq Abdullah took over as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah eventually fell out of favour with the Central Government and the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi had him dismissed. A year later Farooq Abdullah announced an alliance with the ruling Congress party for the elections of 1987.[29] The elections were allegedly rigged in favour of Farooq Abdullah.[29][30]

This led to the rise of an armed insurgency movement composed, in part, of those who unfairly lost elections.[31] Pakistan supplied these groups with logistical support, arms, recruits and training.[29][30][31][32][33]

2004–present

Beginning in 2004 Pakistan began to end its support for insurgents in Kashmir. This happened because terrorist groups linked to Kashmir twice tried to assassinate Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf.[33] His successor, Asif Ali Zardari has continued the policy, calling insurgents in Kashmir "terrorists".[34] Although it is unclear if Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, thought to be the agency aiding and controlling the insurgency[34][35][36] is following Pakistan's commitment to end support for the insurgency in Kashmir.[34]

Despite the change in the nature of the insurgency from a phenomenon supported by external forces to a primarily domestic driven movement[27][34][37][38][39] the Indian government has continued to send large numbers of troops to the Indian border and to crack down on civil liberties.[37][39][40]

There have been widespread protests against Indian rule.[37]

Once the most formidable face of Kashmir militancy, Hizbul Mujahideen is slowly fading away as its remaining commanders and cadres are being taken out on a regular interval by security forces.[41] Some minor incidents of granade throwing and sniper firing at security forces notwithstanding, the situation is under control and more or less peaceful. A record number of tourists including Amarnath pilgrims visited Kashmir during 2012. On 3 August 2012, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba militant commander, Abu Hanzulah involved in various attacks on civilians and security forces was killed in an encounter with security forces in a village in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.[42]

Reasons for the insurgency

Humanitarian abuses

Main article: Human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir

Some analysts have suggested that the number of Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir is close to 600,000 although estimates vary and the Indian government refuses to release official figures.[43] These troops have engaged in widespread humanitarian abuses[39] and have engaged in extrajudicial killings.[40] In October 2010, Army Chief Gen VK Singh stated in an interview that over 95% of the allegations of human rights violations proved to be false and had apparently been levelled with the "ulterior motive of maligning the armed forces".[44] Giving details, he said 988 allegations against the Army personnel in Jammu and Kashmir were received since 1994. Out of these 965 cases were investigated and 940 were found false, accounting for 95.2 percent.[44]

Military forces in Jammu and Kashmir operate under emergency powers granted to them by the central government. These powers allow the military to curtail civil liberties, creating further support for the insurgency.[45]

The insurgents have also abused human rights, engaging in what some have called an ethnic cleansing by exterminating Kashmiri Pandits from the valley of Kashmir.[46] The government's inability to protect the people from both its own troops and the insurgency has further eroded support for the government.[47]

ISI's role

The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence has allegedly encouraged and aided the Kashmir independence movement through an insurgency[34][35][36][48] due to its dispute on the legitimacy of Indian rule in Kashmir, with the insurgency as an easy way to keep Indian troops distracted and cause international condemnation of India.[27]

Political rights

The insurgency was sparked by the rigging of state elections in 1987.[29][30] This has contributed to anti-government sentiment.

A government report found that almost half of all Kashmiri Panchayat Raj positions were vacant and suggested that the reason for this was the destabilising effect of the conflict. The Panchayat Raj is a system of elected village level governance created by the 73rd amendment to the Indian constitution. The report also noted that their ability to effectively govern was "crippled."[49]

There have been some signs in recent times that the Indian government has begun to take Kashmiri political views more seriously, especially those expressed through elections. During the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly elections, 2008 the national ruling party chose to form a coalition with the party that won the most votes in order to "honour the mandate" of the election even though it was contrary to their immediate interests.[50]

Mujahideen influence

After the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, Mujahideen fighters, with the aid of Pakistan, slowly infiltrated Kashmir with the goal of spreading a radical Islamist ideology.[30]

Religion

Jammu and Kashmir is the only Muslim majority state in Hindu-majority India. Indian-American journalist Asra Nomani states that while India itself is a secular state, Muslims are politically, culturally and economically marginalised when compared to Hindus in India as a whole.[51] The Government's decision to transfer 99 acres of forest land to a Hindu organisation solidified this feeling and led to one of the largest protest rallies in Jammu and Kashmir.[52]

Other reasons

The Indian National Census shows that Kashmir lags behind other states in most socio-development indicators such as literacy rates and has unusually high levels of unemployment. This contributes to anti-government sentiment.[53]

Kunan Poshpora incident

In 1991 the 4th Rajputana Rifles Unit are alleged to have entered the village of Kunan Poshpora and raped between 30 and 100 women aged between 13 and 70.[54][55] The Indian government carried out three inquiry's into the allegations and concluded that it had been a hoax. The International Commission of Jurists have stated that though the attacks had not been proven beyond a doubt, but there were credible evidence that it had happened.[56] In 2011 the State Human Rights Commission(SHRC) has asked for the case to be reopened.[57]

Human rights violations by militants

Islamic militants are accused of violence against the Kashmir populace.[58] Thousands of civilian Kashmiri Hindus have been killed in Kashmir over the past 10 years by Islamic militants organisations or Muslim mobs.[54] Human rights organisations put the figure of the number killed since the late 80's at 11,000.[59] Hundreds of Hindu women were raped by Islamic militants during 1980s.[60] Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits have emigrated as a result of the violence. Estimates of the displaced varies from 170,000 to 700,000. Thousands of Pandits have to move to Jammu because of terrorism.[61]

Militant acts in J&K

  • July and August 1989 - 3 CRPF personnel and politician Mohd. Yusuf Halwai of NC/F were killed.[62]
  • July and August 1989 - 3 CRPF personnel and politician Mohd. Yusuf Halwai of NC/F were killed.[62]
  • 1989 kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed daughter of the then Home Minister of India Mufti Sayeed.
  • 1995 kidnapping of western tourists in Jammu and Kashmir- 6 foreign trekkers from Anantnag district were kidnapped by Al Faran, One was beheaded later, one escaped and other four remain untraced presumable killed.
  • 1997 Sangrampora massacre - On March 22, 1997, 7 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in Sangrampora village in the Budgam district.[63]
  • Wandhama Massacre - In January 1998, 24 Kashmiri Pandits living in the village of Wandhama were massacred by Pakistani militants. According to the testimony of one of the survivors, the militants dressed themselves as officers of the Indian Army, entered their houses and then started firing blindly. The incident was significant because it coincided with former US president Bill Clinton's visit to India and New Delhi used the massacre to present a case against the alleged Pakistan-supported terrorism in Kashmir.[64]
  • 1998 Prankote massacre - 26 Hindu villagers of Udhampur district were killed by militants.
  • 1998 Champanari massacre - 25 Hindu villagers killed on June 19, 1998 by Islamic militants.
  • 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre - 30 Hindu pilgrims massacred by militants.
  • Chittisinghpura massacre- 36 Sikhs massacred by LET militants.
  • 2001 terrorist attack on Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly On October 1, 2001, a bombing at the Legislative Assembly in Srinagar killed 38.[65]
  • 2002 Raghunath temple attacks - First attack occurred on 30 March 2002 when two suicide bombers attacked the temple. Eleven persons including three security forces personnel were killed and 20 were injured. In second attck, the fidayeen suicide squad attacked the temple second time on 24 November 2002 when two suicide bombers stormed the temple and killed fourteen devotees and injured 45 others.
  • 2002 Qasim Nagar massacre - On July 13, 2002, armed militants believed to be a part of the Lashkar-e-Toiba threw hand grenades at the Qasim Nagar market in Srinagar and then fired on civilians standing nearby killing 27 and injuring many more.[66]
  • 2003 Nadimarg Massacre - 24 Hindus killed in Nadimarg, Kashmir on March 23, 2003 by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants.
  • July 20, 2005 Srinagar Bombing - A car bomb exploded near an armoured Indian Army vehicle in the famous Church Lane area in Srinagar killing 4 Indian Army personnel, one civilian and the suicide bomber. Militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for the attack.[67]
  • Budshah Chowk attack - A militant attack on July 29, 2005 at Srinigar's city centre, Budshah Chowk, killed 2 and left more than 17 people injured. Most of those injured were media journalists.[68]
  • Assassination of Ghulam Nabi Lone - On October 18, 2005 suspected Kashmiri militants killed Jammu and Kashmir's then education minister Ghulam Nabi Lone. Militant group called Al Mansurin claimed responsibility for the attack.[69] Abdul Ghani Lone, a prominent All Party Hurriyat Conference leader, was assassinated by unidentified gunmen during a memorial rally in Srinagar. The assassination resulted in wide-scale demonstrations against the Indian forces for failing to provide enough security cover for Mr. Lone.[66]
  • 2006 Doda massacre : On May 3, 2006 militants massacred 35 Hindus in Doda and Udhampur districts in Jammu and Kashmir.[70]
  • On June 12, 2006 one person was killed and 31 were wounded when terrorists hurled three grenades on Vaishnodevi shrine-bound buses at the general bus stand here this morning.[71]

Tactics

India

Over time the Indian government has increasingly relied on military presence and a curtailment of civil liberties to achieve its aims in Kashmir.[39] The military has committed massive human rights violations.[72]

For most of the history of the insurgency the government paid little attention to the political views of the Kashmiri people. The government would often dissolve assemblies, arrest elected politicians and impose president's rule. The government also rigged elections in 1987.[29] In recent times there have been signs that the government is taking local elections more seriously.[50]

The government has also funnelled development aid to Kashmir and Kashmir has now become the biggest per capita receiver of Federal aid.[73]

Pakistan

The Pakistani central government originally supported, trained and armed the insurgency in Kashmir, however after groups linked to the Kashmiri insurgency twice attempted to assassinate president Pervez Musharraf, Musharraf decided to end support for such groups.[33] His successor, Asif Ali Zardari has continued the policy, calling insurgents in Kashmir "terrorists".[34]

But the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence hasn't followed the lead of the government and has continued its support for insurgent groups in Kashmir[34][35][36] although Pakistani support for the insurgency has certainly waned.[39]

Insurgents

Since around 2000 the 'insurgency' has become far less violent and has instead taken on the form of protests and marches.[52] Certain groups have also chosen to lay down their arms and look for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.[74]

Groups

The different insurgent groups have different aims in Kashmir. Some want complete independence from both India and Pakistan, others want unification with Pakistan and still others just want greater autonomy from the Indian government.[75]

A 2010 survey found that 43% in J&K would favour independence, with support for the independence movement unevenly distributed across the region.[76]

Identity

Over the last two years, the militant group, Lashkar-e-Toiba has split into two factions: Al Mansurin and Al Nasirin. Another new group reported to have emerged is the Save Kashmir Movement. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (formerly known as Harkat-ul-Ansar) and Lashkar-e-Toiba are believed to be operating from Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir and Muridke, Pakistan respectively.

Other less well known groups are the Freedom Force and Farzandan-e-Milat. A smaller group, Al-Badr, has been active in Kashmir for many years and is still believed to be functioning. All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an organisation that uses moderate means to press for the rights of the Kashmiris, is often considered as the mediator between New Delhi and insurgent groups.

Al-Qaeda

It is unclear if Al Qaeda has a presence in Jammu and Kashmir. Donald Rumsfeld suggested that they were active[77] and in 2002 the SAS hunted for Osama bin Laden in Jammu and Kashmir.[78] Al Qaeda claims that it has established a base in Jammu and Kashmir.[79] However there has been no evidence for any of these assertions.[77][78][79] The Indian army also claims that there is no evidence of Al Qaeda presence in Jammu and Kashmir.[80] Al Qaeda has established bases in Pakistani administered Kashmir and some, including Robert Gates have suggested that they have helped to plan attacks in India.[80][81][82]

See also

References

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