Indian Army pays tribute to martyrs who lost their lives in the line of duty, in Handwara on Sunday.
Four armymen, including the commanding officer, 21 Rashtriya Rifles, his deputy, a major, and two soldiers, and a policeman were killed when they were ambushed during a firefight with militants hiding in a house in Handwara, Jammu and Kashmir, during the night on May 2.
This loss of lives comes less than a month after five commandos from 4 Para (SF) were ambushed and killed by militants, who the commandos were searching for after they infiltrated from across the line of control (LoC) on April 1.
The more things change in Kashmir the more they remain same is an apt description of the situation the union territory finds itself in at the moment.
The abrogation of Article 370 in August, 2019 and dividing the state into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, was an epoch moment in the history of the subcontinent.
It was thought by supporters of Article 370’s scraping that it would usher in a new era in terms of development of the UT and put an end to cross-border terrorism. They were proved wrong.
Staring August 5, 2019, the people of Jammu and Kashmir were put under a draconian lockdown with no one allowed out of their houses and all forms of communication, including mobile phone and internet connectivity, suspended. This alienated even more those who opposed Indian rule but also people who were pro-India.
The lockdown was eased somewhat earlier this year and then started encounters between security personnel and the terrorists quite regularly as with the start of mobile phone services, the informers started getting in touch with the security personnel and informed them about hiding militants.
Did anything change after abrogation of Article 370 in terms of less violence? No, it didn’t. April was bloody month. First the killing of five commandos and equal number of militants and then in retaliation Indian Army started pounding Pakistani Army positions, ammunition dumps and other infrastructure along the LoC.
The Pakistan Army responded in kind and targeted Indian positions. Civilians on both sides, living near the LoC, bore the brunt of these artillery duels with many killed, scores wounded and their houses and other properties either destroyed or damaged.
Pakistan is now aggressively trying to push in militants who are more motivated and better trained than before and able to stand their ground and take down as many of the security forces personnel as possible.
It was a wake-up call and an alarming development when the militants were able to overwhelm the five commandos, probably the most skilled, motivated and trained soldiers in the Indian Army, and take them down with them.
The killing of a colonel, a major, two soldiers and one J&K policemen late on May 2 also points to the skills and training of the militants. The soldiers and the cop were most probably ambushed by the militants while they entered a house purportedly to rescue civilians trapped inside.
Now this brings us to the bigger question.
Is it time to start talking to people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan to try and solve this vexing issue?
For the last more than 30 years, since the insurgency started way back in 1989, India has tried everything at its disposal to stamp it out. Nearly half the army, close to 6 lakh troops, are deployed there yet the insurgency refuses to die. Reason for that is the support being provided from across the border in terms of militants, weapons, money etc.
The army has deployed massive numbers of soldiers, anti-infiltration measures like barbed wires, sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles and more but still the militants keep sneaking in.
We have even struck terror bases in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and beyond in Pakistan proper but to no avail.
The much celebrated surgical strikes, in response to the Uri terror attack, were carried out in September 2016 to deter Pakistan from training, harbouring and sending militants to J&K but it had no effect.
Then on February 26, 2019, the IAF bombed a terror base in Balakot inside Pakistan to avenge the killing for 40 odd CRPF personnel in a car bombing. That attack also didn’t stop Pakistan from actively supporting insurgency in Kashmir.
So, how many brave heart solders are we going to lose in this unending insurgency? Is life of soldiers so cheap that we keep sending them into harm’s way and not think of an alternative solution to extricate ourselves from this morass?
Abrogation of Article 370 was lost throw of the dice by us and it failed as things haven’t turned out as planned.
Pakistan, to prove that removing Art 370 was a folly by India, has become even more aggressive in pushing in militants.
Air strike into Pakistan territory, surgical strikes, artillery duels on the LoC, destroying so called terror camps, ammo dumps, killing Pak army soldiers and destroying their bunkers along LoC has only made Pakistan more determined to keep on sending in better trained militants.
Why are we so averse to talks with Kashmiris, Pakistan government and the Pakistan Army on this issue? Why can’t we try this option when no other option is left and everything we have tried has failed. We can’t let this to continue for 30 more years and beyond.
Disclaimer : The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the writer/author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Babushahi.com or Tirchhi Nazar Media. Babushahi.com or Tirchhi Nazar Media does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.