- And what it means
The recent border skirmishes between Pakistan and India over Pulwama incident in the age of mobile technology and internet communication system will have an altogether different impact on public perception, political gamesmanship, force deployment tactics and internal stability not only in both countries but also in South Asian region. An effective social media and digital mass communication means can easily shape public opinion in favour of or against peace initiatives or war mongering. It can simply estrange local population living in a country on account of media based reporting and transmission methods. The political stakes, as a result of it, can be gauged which may be further modulated through launching a vigorous mass communication reporting system. The internal stability of a country can therefore be strengthened or weakened on account of how readily a country embraces the digital capital based information dissemination by employing innovative and indigenous methods to try to dovetail reality with fiction.
Let us first go back to the incident and see how it can be reviewed and paraphrased. The Pulwama incident leaves behind a number of lessons for Indian military and its strategy of use of force to control the local population for maintaining peace and order in Jammu and Kashmir. According to South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP), a website which records and analyses terror related activities in South Asia, the fatalities in violence has increased in last five years in Jammu and Kashmir. The civilian casualties have grown many-fold over the same period indicating thereby the brutal tactics employed by local Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) including police.
More than forty four thousand persons have lost their lives over a period of thirty years in the valley. On basis of military deployment density the area is believed to be the most militarised zone on the globe. Interestingly it is not the first suicide attack in District Pulwama. In fact such activities have been going on in the area for quite some time now through effective gun battles, grenade attacks and short range weapon assaults. In this backdrop, on February 14, 2019, a vehicle laden with more than 200 kilograms of explosives was rammed into a convoy of Indian forces on Srinagar Kashmir National Highway killing more than 40 personnel on the spot.
There are serious chances that the incident may trigger further alienation among the members of Kashmiri community
Thus, it is important to look at the incident with respect to huge number of killings of Indian forces. The erstwhile tactics of insurgents of engagement are changing with passage of time and they have resorted to a strategy which involves maximising fatalities in such incidents. According to the available statistics, the causalities of Indian forces have gone up to 93 percent in last five years. It seems that India is using Israeli military tactics in Kashmir which pivots around crushing insurgency with brutal force and blatant human rights violations. Reportedly, hundreds of Kashmiris have been arrested, tortured and incarcerated in local prisons. The young men are being humiliated daily at public places and the insurgents are apt to upload these instances on social media to transmit to millions of people living in the world. Nonetheless, the topographic and geographical layout of Kashmir is totally different than that of Gaza and West Bank. The places of hideouts are easily accessible to the insurgents in the area and a large segment of population is either alienated or pitched against Indian forces to take revenge and settle old scores with local law enforcement agencies. As a result, the Indian government has failed to reduce or limit causalities, sustain the conflict economically, garner proper social cohesion, attract effective local and international support to weaken the case of Kashmiri leadership on various fora.
Second, it is one of the rarest incidents in which the fidayeen attack was conducted, which is believed to be locally conceived, planned and executed against the Indian forces. According to an Indian military commander, the explosive used in the attack cannot be amassed by infiltrating border which clearly indicates that it was acquired locally with active population support and a considerable period of time was spent on preparation of vehicle laden with explosive to carry out such an activity.
The most dangerous aspect of this incident is the kind of reaction to which Kashmiris have been subjected to at the hands of Indian authorities and public. They have been attacked all over the country without any political and local support. A bond of cooperation is slowly emerging between Kashmiris and Sikhs, the latter being viewed upon positively by the former for protection and safety especially in Punjab, Haryana and its adjoining regions in India. This development is interesting given that both communities have been facing atrocities at the hands of Indian forces and are considered to be marginalised and dis-empowered. Such alienation can strengthen the links between the two communities in future which can pose serious challenges to the Indian state.
The Supreme Court of India on February 22, 2019 directed state governments and union territories to take immediate measures for prevention of any threat, boycott and intimidation tactics against Kashmiris in the wake of the attacks. Such action by Supreme Court of India speaks volumes about the current state of affairs in which Kashmiris are being pushed to the wall and they are not getting any support and solace anywhere save from a community in Punjab. There are serious chances that the incident may trigger further alienation among the members of Kashmiri community leading to their major detachment and estrangement from the rest of population. Such a demographic divorce can eventually be used by anyone and the local insurgent may also get a major boost from such situation.
The population indifference is the most serious rift which can be exploited and used against a state. In an advanced stage, it may lead to an intense insurgency like situation where brutal tactics of the host nation may become ineffective and counterproductive.