Sanjha Morcha


The sponsored proxy internal conflict in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has witnessed a plethora of methods by the state to break the resistance of the terrorist groups through measures other than military. It needs to be understood why this is necessary despite a clear advantage that the security forces (SF) enjoy in numbers and domination. All over the world it is well understood that with tight control over resources and effective operations the strength of terrorists can be brought down to a minimum but the last remnant can rarely be vanquished. A remnant strength mostly remains which takes up a frustratingly large focus without commensurate results, especially if it has local moorings.. Even marginal success by a lower strength of terrorists helps sustain the movement as is being witnessed in J&K at present. Funeral ceremonies of local terrorists act as motivation for fresh recruitment and the pipeline can be maintained such for a very long time. At intervals a new terrorist leader with a charisma a little beyond the ordinary and better organizational skills will emerge and lead the charge, giving an impetus to the movement until he too is neutralized and another upsurge of sentiment is witnessed. Little do non-military minds realize that this frustrating cycle can continue interminably. Most such minds favor a kinetic approach towards the neutralization of the last terrorist. Yet, this is never achievable because there is a finite amount of resources that the state can deploy in the fight against terror; beyond that it becomes counter-productive. In fact the returns start diminishing. Lower strength of terrorists tempts hierarchies to reduce force levels and this many times may lead to resurgence of terror activity. J&K has witnessed both the above phenomena. The Shupiyan-Kulgam belt has witnessed a resurgence of such activity due to the space made available to the terrorists after downsizing Army presence there. We also saw how the killing of Burhan Wani gave energy to local terrorism leading to resurgence with greater recruitment. Now it seems another charismatic young terrorist leader Manan Wani has emerged in South Kashmir. Manan Wani is a former research scholar from Aligarh Muslim University who was pursuing research in applied geology. He has in all probability joined the Hizbul Mijahideen (HM). Inquiries to me on social media all harp on whether Mannan Wani is the new Burhan Wani of South Kashmir.

To beat the flawed approach of attempting to neutralize the last terrorist we often have weak attempts at trying to break the will of the remnant. One of the ways is through offer of surrender for a reward. It is not easy formulating a surrender policy and it is even more difficult implementing one. Many times in the past we have resorted to such policies and each time these have come to a naught, mostly due to the misreading of the environmental reality, insincerity of the bureaucratic and police follow up and inability to take it to the last. There is no doubt that on many an occasion the exploitation of loopholes leads to financial rackets by some of the marginal elements such as over ground workers (OGWs). In 2003-4 a sincere attempt was made but the process of verification was weak and took inordinately long to inspire any desire on the part of local terrorists and their families to undergo the same. In addition there was any number of weapons available for OGWs to purchase at a marginal price and attempt to surrender these to qualify for the label of a terrorist. To beat that the State Government made it mandatory for an individual to be listed as a terrorist in the list maintained by the local intelligence authority. That had its own negative connotations. In 2006-7 an attempt was made through a surrender policy to attract back to our side some of the young men who had gone across to PoK in the Nineties. Some did manage to return on terms of this policy before it was realized that the Pakistan ISI was attempting to create a few sleeper agents through the legitimate route of the surrender policy. A near similar attempt was made in 2011-13 but again came cropper.

Thus the reported attempt at a new policy having been formulated in J&K under the current Governor’s rule, while being a welcome step, needs circumspection because of past experience. On the face it is revealed that the financial reward is substantially higher at Rs 5-6 lakh, to be placed in a fixed deposit for a lock in period during which the individual has to showcase his good behavior. Rs 5000 per month stipend for living expenses will be available during the lock in period along with some self-employment incentive under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana and Himayat.  It needs to be remembered that there are an undetermined number of surrendered terrorists in J&K; some figures put them as high as 20,000. No sincere attempt was ever made to integrate these elements into society and after an initial period during which they were to give ‘haazri’ (attendance) at local army units or police stations they simply melted into society. While on one hand it is good that the melt in effect took place, there always remains a nagging doubt about their sense of loyalty and desire to re-enter the bush. In fact for long it has been felt that with dwindling infiltration the return of surrendered terrorists always remains an option to continue fueling the separatist/terrorist movement.

What the current hierarchy of security specialists in J&K will have to ensure is that the pitfalls experienced in the last few such surrender policies are closely examined. The financial terms are indeed attractive and this will invite many fraudulent attempts to gain entry to surrender. The successful sustenance of the policy is highly dependent upon the monitoring of the surrendered individuals to ensure they do not subsequently act as OGWs. They also need a degree of security for which some separate incentives can be offered to the mohallas and villages they hail from. Self-employment is important but in J&K this is never easy as people have confidence only in government jobs and these are far and few in a system already bloated with government servants. What is needed in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh is start up activity with more easily available loans. Large scale consultancy is required by the J&K Government with many of India’s corporate houses to examine how ancillary support can be provided from these areas for main manufacturing. Horticulture, tourism including adventure sports, privatized higher education and other traditional methods of employment   must the core areas.

The success of a surrender policy is also largely contingent upon the degree of alienation existing in the environment. Unless more innovative methods are employed to reduce alienation a surrender policy will remain in suspense with dubious takers only. Yet, the establishment needs to be complimented for coming out with such a policy so soon after imposition of Governor’s rule.