When insurgents chose to shun violence : The Tribune India

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When insurgents chose to shun violence

When insurgents chose to shun violence

Photo for representational purpose only. File photo



Brig Jagbir Singh Grewal (retd)

MY battalion, 28 Punjab, was in the thick of counter-insurgency operations when terrorism was at its peak in Assam. Soon, it dawned on me as the battalion commander that proactive, daring but calculated risks were essential. Seizing the fleeting opportunities was equally rewarding. If you dilly-dallied and waited for favourable circumstances, you did so entirely at your own peril.

Troubled by the roughshod modus operandi of the terrorists, the public was forthcoming with vital information. This facilitated the conduct of unabated counter-insurgency operations in the marshy, forested, inhospitable terrain amid inclement weather. Life was tough, both for us as well as for the insurgents. Constantly on the move and badly cornered, many insurgents were gunned down and the apprehended ones disclosed that some of their ilk were willing to surrender.

Wishing to cash in on this revelation, I decided to meet the local acharya (religious leader). Accompanied by the Subedar Major and carrying the customary gifts of bouquets and fruit baskets, and escorted by the inevitable armed protection, we convoyed to the monastery where the acharya, much revered by the local residents and insurgents alike, dwelt in his abode in solitude in the forested area.

A weird silence descended as we entered the dense forest. Darkness prevailed amidst the thick foliage. Danger lurked in the creepy shadows. Terrorists often sneaked into this forest for refuge. For us, it was a risky venture.

We were not heading for a search-and-destroy operation, but ours was a mission with a difference — to rescue, rehabilitate and give a new lease of life to the misguided youth who had gone astray. In conformity with the Indian Army’s doctrine ‘Win the hearts and minds of the people,’ it was like applying the proverbial balm to assuage the resentment of the disgruntled folks.

On being ushered in for the meeting and after the exchange of pleasantries, I requested the acharya for assistance to convince the tired and weary insurgents to join the mainstream. He was flabbergasted because no one had approached him with such a queer request. Perhaps convinced by the sincerity of my purpose, he promised to try his best.

After about a week, a sizeable number of deeply remorseful insurgents trooped in before us, exhibiting their commitment to shunning violence. After laying down their weapons and warlike stores on the ground, they swore their allegiance to India, thus strengthening our conviction that with vigorous effort people inveigled with the idea of separatism can be weaned away from their radical ideology.

#Assam


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