Afghan Endgame And Fears Of Rise In Kashmir Violence31 March 2010
New Delhi: The Indian army says rebel violence will escalate in Kashmir in summer as hundreds of militants are waiting in the Pakistani part of Kashmir to infiltrate into the Indian side and step up attacks. Even an internal assessment of the Home Ministry says the summer of 2010 will be as bloodier as or even worse than the mid-nineties. In Kashmir, violence involving Muslim rebels and Indian troops was on the decline since India and Pakistan, who dispute the region, began a peace process in 2004. Then why does New Delhi fear escalation of militant violence in Kashmir? Analysts say after the failure of high-level talks between New Delhi and Islamabad, both are now locked in an escalating proxy war in Afghanistan, a war-torn region where both neighbours vie for influence. “If no solution is found to reconcile Pakistani and Indian interests in Afghanistan, the coming months might see stepped up terrorist attacks against Indians in Kabul and the return of militants infiltrating Indian Kashmir from Pakistan,” says Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist. Though the high Himalayan passes are still covered with a thick layer of snow, Pakistan-based militants have started pushing in their members into the Valley. Indian troops shot dead six separatist militants over the weekend as they tried to cross into Kashmir from the Pakistani side, the third such infiltration attempt to be foiled in the last four days. The militant attacks in the region’s summer capital, Srinagar, have already shown a steady rise. There have been four lethal attacks in the span of just 10 days. A senior Indian army official told a news conference that there are approximately 42 (militant) training camps located in the Pakistani part of Kashmir and 34 are active. “This year we have occupied additional counter infiltration positions (on Line of Control), and repair of border fence has also commenced earlier,” Brigadier General Staff Gurmeet Singh said. The Indian army built a three-metre-high barbed wire fence along much of the 742-km (460-mile) LoC, a military line dividing Kashmir, after a ceasefire between the two armies in 2003. But the fence failed to stop incursions. Spring has just set in Kashmir with tulips and other flowers in full blossom across the Valley. But war weary residents have started fearing the resurgence of violence, especially in urban areas. When the snow melts and allows easier movement of militants within the region and also lets them trek through the mountain passes on the LoC, will Kashmir witness a fresh wave of violence?