Sunday, June 14, 2009

The uncovered face of J&K militancy

That militancy in Jammu is an offshoot of terror in Kashmir, is a major misconception that most of us suffer from. Militancy in Jammu -- from its inception -- was a mix of religious extremism ethnic antagonism and at times, criminalization.

Militancy started in Kashmir after the massive rigging of the March 1987 elections. People, who were fraudulently declared defeated, in sheer frustration started a violent liberation movement in the state.

In sharp contrast to the Kashmir valley, militancy in Jammu was pioneered by pro-Pakistani militants and Islamic groups like Harkat-ul-Ansar, Hizbul Mujahideen and Muslim Janbaaz. “The ideological diet of Kashmiriyat, which sustained militancy in the Valley could not hold true for a diverse district like Doda,” says Luv Puri’s book, Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir: The uncovered face.

The causes of the origin and the various stages of the growth of militancy in Jammu were different from those in Kashmir. It started much later in Jammu. The distinctive character of militancy in the two regions is a result of special features such as geography, ethno religious composition and socio-political situation.

Thus, as long as militancy comprised of the youth from the Kashmir Valley and was inspired by the ideology of Kashmiri nationalism, it did not have much appeal in the ethnically different region of Jammu. But when the youth from the Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir and the province of Punjab in Pakistan joined the movement, it changed from a Kashmiri to a militant movement.

The response to it in Kashmir was a decline in appeal but in Jammu, which was ethnically closer to the new militants, the appeal increased, explains the book.

Most of the works undertaken on Jammu and Kashmir till date have spoken only of the problems in Kashmir valley. But Puri’s book is different in the sense that it talks about the nature and causes of militancy South of the Pir Panjal, where the violence was far more complex and brutal than in the Valley, in several respects.

The study throws up some interesting results for sure, which reinforce the point that war against terrorism cannot be treated as a military problem but has to involve an understanding of the political and societal landscape of a society in turmoil.

There are certain areas where the author could have gone into detail. For example, why were the Kashmiris annoyed when Farooq Abdullah patched up with the Congress in 1986? What exactly happened in 1984 that led to the dismissal of the Abdullah government?

The book, of course would be of immense interest to scholars and journalists, but its language, smooth narrative and clarity makes it interesting for a lay reader too. It is well researched and provides a lot of additional information via footnotes.

Unfortunately, the time covered in this book is from mid 1990s to 2003. The author could have incorporated a chapter on the recent developments in the region, the new leaders like Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Sajjad Lone and their plans for the region.

The book calls for a chapter on Pakistan too, since any work or study on Jammu and Kashmir without considering the Islamabad side remains incomplete.

Also taken in: The Human Rights Journal of Jammu and Kashmir


Vetri Iyer said...

Frankly speaking, I didn't find anything remarkable in the book. You must read works by the author's father Balraj Puri. He is an authority on Kashmir issues.

Kamran Haider said...

Interesting Iyer and I quite agree that any study on J&K without a reference to Pakistan remains incomplete.

Anonymous said...

How can you say it is well researched..The book badly needs meat.