Published:  12:34 AM, 31 July 2020

First anniversary of the new status of Kashmir

August 5 is a significant date this year as on this day one year ago, Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was scrapped through a legislative measure and the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) assumed the status of a Union Territory. Other changes were also effected in adjoins Ladakh.

Contrary to the propaganda unleashed by Pakistan and it's intelligence agencies that people in Kashmir have been  repressed or not treated fairly ,the realistic picture based on facts and figures , speak for themselves that things today are more than normal in Kashmir with a promise for a better future.

There is a marked decrease in the terror violence in Kashmir from January 1 to July 15, 2020 when compared to the figures reflecting the corresponding period in 2019. To illustrate the point, there have been only 120 casualties so far as against 188 last year. Significantly, security forces lost 35 lives when compared to the previous year when the toll was as high as 75. In the current scenario, in view of the stepped up operations against the terrorists, mostly sponsored by Pakistan, 136 terrorists were eliminated by the security forces as against 126 in the last year. Out of the 136 terrorists killed till July 15 this year, 110 were locals while the rest were part of the cross border terrorists trained, indoctrinated and dispatched by Pakistan.

Among the notable terrorists neutralized include Riaz Naikoo of the Hijbul Mujahdeen ( HuM) , Hyder belonging to Lashkar e Toiba ( LeT), Qari Nasir and Burhan Koka from the Jaish e Mohammad (JeM). Importantly, 22 terrorists and their 300 affiliates have been arrested by the Security Forces and most of their hideouts and so called safe houses have been busted. There has also been a sharp decline in the cases of IeD blasts and as per the credible reports,  there is only one case this year though last year we saw six cases in the corresponding period . There has also been recovery of huge cache of sophisticated weaponry from the terrorists.

There is a clear 40% downward trend in the recruitment process which is a very encouraging trend.  This year only 67 youth were inducted for terror linked activities. The security and intelligence agencies are claiming that the potential terrorists now feel sufficiently discouraged after the Aug 5 decision of 2019 amid developmental projects going in full throttle initiated by the Union Territory (UT) administration.

Other than tackling terror in Kashmir by the Counter Terror forces, the thrust is simultaneously now on developmental projects for the benefit of the Kashmiris . A fresh J&K Hydro Power and renewable energy policy has been announced for the current year. Solar power will also be appropriated under these schemes. The 624 Megawatt Kiru Hydro Electric Project on river Chenab in Kishtwar became operational on June 17, 2020. Meanwhile, plans are actively afoot to expedite the construction of 280 Megawatt multipurpose projects proposed on river Ugh in district Kathwa. Also, four smaller projects in Ganderbal and Anantnag are in the pipeline.

In addition to these, 45 Megawatt Nimmo Bazgo Hydropower Project in Leh and 44 Megawatt Chutar project in Kargil are under active finalization. The National Hill Power Corporation (NHPC) is collaborating with these projects to hasten their completion. Plans are also underway to provide uninterrupted power supply in the region and things are moving on a breakneck speed.

Further, grid stations have come into effect in Bandipora and Badampora . Besides these, several broad tunnels and bridges are also being constructed under Zozila projects which are mega in nature and expected to be completed by 2026. The Border Roads Organization (BRO) has been allocated additional and huge funding for speedy construction of border roads for better connectivity.

On the health front, there are constant endeavors from the Central Government and the UT administration about various health projects in Kashmir. Nursing schools and colleges are being upgraded and quality and modernization projects are planned in a robust manner.

In the wake of imposition of the new status in Kashmir, there are traces of some positive political developments too. Sincere efforts have come to notice aimed at strengthening the Panchayati Raj system in the UT. A new political party called Apni Party was launched in March 2020 by the former J&K finance minister, Mufti Altaf Bukhari. There are reports of another political party in the making known as J&K Workers Party. Earlier, in October last year, Block level elections were successfully held.

In another politics related development,  Hurriyat leader and known Kashmiri separatist, Syed Ali  Geelani has disassociated himself from the Hurriyat activities . However, latest reports indicate that the Pakistan Senate has recently decided (July 27) after passing a resolution to confer the highest Pakistani civilian award Nishan e Pakistan to Geelani. It has also been decided to name or build one university named after Geelani.

It may be pertinent to point out how would Pakistan feel if Baluch leader Bugti who was killed under Musharraf regime, or GM Syed of the erstwhile Sindh movement,  or for that matter Nawaz Sharif are resurrected by a few neighboring countries naming universities after them or erecting their statues or conferring living or posthumous honors to them  . Such steps will surely hurt Pakistan. These moves, therefore, are extraordinary, uncalled for and certainly indicative to earn sympathy of the Kashmiris and keep the issue alive. Whatever, it's cosmetic and unlikely to elicit any sentimental dividend from the Kashmiris.

Visibly envious with these positive and constructive developments in Kashmir, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in active collaboration with its infamous spy agency ISI has drawn up a plan on August 5. His 18 point agenda, inter alia, includes an address to the Pakistan occupied Kashmir assembly and a state sponsored conducted field trip to the foreign journalists. However, ISI has asked its field formations near Muzaffarabad to be extra careful so as the visiting journalists don't get a glimpse or any whiff of the series of training camps located near Muzaffarabad. From these locations, the terrorists are trained in various terror linked tradecraft for subsequent infiltration to the Indian side and to carry out their state sponsored subversive activities.

Imran Khan and his ISI would do well if they enter into developmental and constructive projects on their side of the forcefully occupied Kashmir, making the population politically conscious to contribute for the welfare of the region. Similarly, like in India, where the UT administration has achieved so much in a year, PoK should emulate these with health, means of communication and education as top priorities. Abetting terror by abusing the impoverished Kashmiris on the Pakistan side by instilling hatred for Indians has always proved counterproductive as seen in their administration. This is, like always, a regressive step with no positive outcome ever in sight.

Also, Pakistan attempts to rope in Turkey, China and Malaysia to issue anti India statements or sensitizing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for adopting an anti India stance on Kashmir is a non starter, as in the past. Analysts feel these are all exercises in futility on part of Pakistan. Instead, it would augur well if Pakistan turned its full attention to a deft handling of the ongoing Covid pandemic and combat the menace of terror stemming out of the country itself.

The writer is a security analyst and a freelance columnist on topical issues. Views expressed are personal

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