Niharika Hooda Writes: Last week a Kashmiri school girl was alleged to have been molested by an Indian army soldier, which caused wide unrest and violent protests in Handwara. This was later found to be untrue, as in the video released by the army, which included the statement of the girl given to the police, highlighted that it was in fact the local youth which had harassed the girl and fabricated the tale to incite unrest in the valley.
This incident very clearly shows the attitude of some of the Kashmiris toward the Indian army. It is quite probable that the misuse of AFSPA very often, as quoted by the locals could be related to atrocities committed by the locals or Pakistani army dressed as Indian army, to spark unrest in the region, and to instil a negative reputation of the army in the minds of local Kashmiris. This could also be a planned action by Pakistan to inflict nationwide unrest against the army in the region and pressurize the government indirectly to curtail the power of Indian army in the valley, especially by pressurising to remove the AFSPA.
The alleged youth during his interaction with the girl had said “kashmiris have not perished as yet” this is a defining attitude in some part of Kashmir, where they see themselves as separate from India. Those which lean towards the Indian state are criticized. Another incident which highlights this view is when a group of 30 Kashmiri girls from Srinagar had gone for an army sponsored tour of Delhi and Agra,( as a part of operation sadhbhawana), on their return, they realised that they were now facing online abuse and threats. Many separatist groups like Dukhtaran-e-Millat issued statements criticizing those girls and their families. Those separatists were labelling such kind of tours as one, which was meant for grooming “army informers”.
This brings to our attention as to how the instability in Kashmir is being played up. On one side the threat is emanating from the border, and thereupon the involvement of the army to counter those threats, on the other hand the threat can be internal in nature propagated falsely by the separatist. Such threats emanate from the locals themselves and threaten the internal security of the region, especially since the valley is already subjected to religious fractures. There is a desperate need for Kashmir to accept the positive initiatives of the Indian government and to work out a plan, to become a part of the mainstream India, which would not only help in their economic development but would also help the Indian army to efficiently execute its responsibilities and stabilize the region and bring down terrorism in the valley.