May 2002 News

Local support to militants waning

15 May 2002
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: The Kashmiris'' independence movement has been taken over by assorted rogues, and the people are upset and disillusioned, feel officials. Local militants are also steadily abandoning the ''armed struggle'', boosting chances of a return of peace in the State. The view that violence alone cannot deliver seems to be taking root in at least some sections of the separatist All-Party Hurriyat Conference as well. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Islamic leader and executive member of the Hurriyat, said on Sunday: ''We are at a point of stagnation. Whatever sacrifices we offer in the coming days, we may not be able to take the movement forward beyond this stage. We need to explore all possibilities and broaden the base of interaction.'' In an oblique reference to Muslim countries, the Mirwaiz said: ''Countries do express concern but we are dismayed over the lack of support. No third party is practically involved.'' It is believed internal pressures are forcing both militants and their local supporters to look to peace. ''People are disillusioned with what was touted as a pro-independence struggle. They are now looking forward to the Assembly elections,'' said A.K. Suri, DGP (J&K). ''The common man is fed up. Every rogue element in society is exploiting the situation. One wonders if militancy has become an industry,'' said Udhampur Deputy Commissioner Shailendra Kumar. Dwindling local support is often demonstrated by acts of resistance by the people. Recently, a young girl in Doda was shot in the leg for resisting a group of militants. A similar incident occurred a few days later. ''Such incidents of resistance were previously unheard of,'' said an official. The pro-peace leaning of Majid Dar, former Hizb commander, is considered an indicator of local militantsí bent of mind. The loss of local support is obviously bad news for Islamabad. ''Pakistan cannot afford to lose the game it has played for more than a decade,'' said a senior Kashmiri politician. ''There is fear that peaceful elections would deal a death blow to Pakistan''s Kashmir plans. The Centre needs to be very strong this time round.'' K. Rajendra Kumar, IGP, Kashmir, said Tuesday''s suicide attack in Jammu was aimed at sending out a message that the ''struggle'' was not confined to Kashmir, besides communalising the situation in Jammu. With their support among the people shrinking, the terrorists are now expected to turn even more violent. Attempts would be made to introduce some local element in operational groups by calling Kashmiri boys back from across the border. One of the terrorists killed in Tuesday''s attack is believed to be a Kashmiri. ''The ground situation is conducive for a lasting return of peace. But the Centre needs to gear up for a strong resistance from the supporters of cross-border terrorism. If we become weak now, J&K will burn like never before,'' a National Conference leader said.


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