The Army has been chastised for what separatists and militants call “Operation All-out”, but that doesn’t exist in the thought process of the Army and the government at all.
The ground realities are different from the hallucinations of politicians who appear to have joined the misinformation campaign with an eye on their vote bank.
Statistics tell a lot – in 2018, the Army neutralised 311 militants - 248 killed, 58 apprehended and five surrendered. The militants were made ineffective, that is what the term “neutralisation” stands for, which is being touted as “Operation All-out” as part of the misinformation campaign. Sixty-three militants walked out alive from the near-death situations because the Army wanted them to live. This number would have been higher had there been no crowd intervention.
This does not absolve the security forces of their rush to achieve early results, but there is a threat of crowd intervention lurking all the time. That nips at the heels of the soldiers who become impatient for early results at the encounter sites.
The dynamics of heroism building funeral processions unfolded with the funeral of Pakistani militant and mastermind of several terror attacks Abu Qasim in October 2015. It became a trend, and it took a turn for the worse when the stone-throwing crowds attempted to disrupt the anti-militancy operations.
This set the stage where the militants and the stone-throwing mob stood on one side and the security forces on the other. The natural consequence was avoidable clashes that very often resulted in unfortunate casualties.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, made an insightful but incomplete point on Friday, when he said “the armed forces, skilled for warfare, were celebrating and patting their back on killing scarcely trained young men and boys some as young as 14”.
It is a hard fact that several young local boys have joined militancy in a couple of years. And when they appear on the radar of security forces, they are given the opportunity to come out safely. This opportunity was also given to Al-Badr commander Zeenal ul Islam who was killed last week.
But the leaders speak only after the boys are dead, they never utter a word, cautioning them about the dangers that guns bring with them.
Once civil society steps in to stop young boys from picking guns, the gun versus guns would crumble before the narrative of peace. The peace would save boys, soldiers and also others who get caught in the crossfire.
The Army is a secondary party to certain things going wrong in Kashmir, the primary responsibility lies with the leadership for it has rarely attempted to sift fact from fiction. But the fact is that neither side is willing to own the responsibility for the things gone wrong.
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