Chapter 10: The Tide Against Militancy
One should not get
the impression that despite Pakistan's proxy war the entire population
of the Valley or even a majority of them are sympathetic to the militants.
The demonstrations against the dastardly deeds of the various militant
groups clearly show that the tide is turning; fear is gradually being replaced
by angry outbursts against militants.
A spontaneous public protest was first witnessed
in March 1990 when the gory killing of a popular political leader Mir Ghulam
Mustafa took place. People held massive rallies in the Chadura Assembly
constituency of Badgam raising anti-militant and anti-Pakistan slogans.
Such resentment gathered pace in 1991 when from
February to December that year, on 25 occasions local citizens staged demonstrations
against militant violence inter-gang clashes of militants killing of local
youth, extortion of money and attempted bank breaks, timber-looting by
militants and grenade attacks and bomb explosions. The popular protests
were marked by people taking out processions and strikes.
Following the killing of a Muslim Janbaz Force (MJF) militant Nazir Ahmed Shah by the Hizbul Mujhideen (HUM) militants,
600 local people of Lassipora Kupwara demonstrated on February 10, 1991,
raising anti-Pakistan and pro- India slogans. When a young man was killed
by HUM militants at Batmaloo Srinagar on April 30, 1991, more than 200
people of the area took out a slogan- shouting protest procession.
Shops and establishments in Lal Chowk, Srinagar,
remained closed in protest against a grenade attack by militants at Goakadal
(November 18, 1991). Four citizens had lost their lives and 20 others were
wounded. It was generally believed that the blast was caused by HUM. Again
the killing of Ghulam Mohammed Butt by the militants at Chawalgam, Anantnag,
resulted in shops remaining closed and transport being suspended on November
On the same day in different areas some more angry
protests were witnessed. Local shopkeepers observed a "hartal" in protest
against killing of a local Muslim by militants at Bijbehara, Anantnag.
Again, following the kidnapping of a youth by the Al Umar militants, shopkeepers
pulled down their shutters and 3000 people held a demonstration at Alamgari
Bazar, Srinagar. On December 14, 1991, a large number of villagers of Wagooke,
Baramula, took out an angry procession expressing resentment against the
atrocities committed by the militants. Two days later in Kalantra, also Baramula, the villagers overpowered two Al Barq militants, Jamshed and
Ezer, when they were found extorting money. Their arms were snatched away
and they were given a severe beating.
The voices of protest became more strident in
1992. There were about 50 instances of open protests and demonstrations
by villagers, women and city- dwellers against violence perpetrated by
militants; injuries caused to women, violent, inter-gang battles, abductions,
rapes, misuse of mosques and the killing of Shia Muslims.
Following the slaying of several pro-Jammu and
Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and pro-independence overground leaders
and those who had surrendered to the security forces by the pro-Pakistani
militants at Anantnag during March 1992, a number of militants fled to
Jammu. The brutal killings generated resentment among the people. Muslim
women in large numbers (March 15-17, 1992) demonstrated against the killing
of innocent people. During a public protest meeting (Anantnag March 17,
1992) burqa clad women delivered angry speeches alleging that 300 women
had been raped by militants during February-March 1992.
RAPE BY MILITANTS
When on March 31, 1992 militants of HUM abducted
an area commander of the Al Jehad Force and shot at five members of his
family at Sultanpura Badgam (the brother and sister of the "Commander"
succumbed to their injuries while three other members of the family including
the mother were seriously wounded), considerable local wrath was witnessed
When three members of a Hindu family were killed
at Srinagar on April 1 1992, after the housewife and her teenage daughter
had been gang raped, there was such indignation and revulsion that 5000
local citizens staged a protest demonstration as also enforced a two-day
local hartal at Habbakadal, Srinagar. In sympathy with this, 2000 college
girls held a demonstration at the Women's College, Kothibagh, Srinagar,
and later took out a protest procession.
There have been a number of demonstrations, protests
and agitation, particularly by women against the molestation of girls and
the raping of women by militants. More than 300 women of Batmaloo, Srinagar,
took out a procession against the activities of militants (April 10, 1992).
Five days later when a married woman Khatjee, wife of Ghulam Qadir Sofi,
was abducted by militants, the local people mounted a sit-in strike at Babademb,
Srinagar. Again in the wake of the abduction of a woman by some
militants at Chakla Baramula, an armed clash took place between two rival
militant groups in which three villagers were killed and fifteen wounded.
Later the villagers caught hold of three militants, shaved their heads,
blackened their faces and paraded them through the village (May 12, 1992).
Following the rape of a Muslim girl by three militants and her subsequent
attempt to commit suicide (Baramula June 6, 1992), more than 600 locals
gathered, raising anti-Pakistan and anti-militancy slogans.
Three thousand angry men marched raising condemnatory
slogans against militancy when a young boy Ghulam Mohideen was kidnapped
by the militants at Anantnag on April 10, 1992. On that day there were
angry slogans raised at Rainawari, Srinagar, and about a 100 women took
part in a procession at Ziarat Batmaloo.
ATTACK ON SHIAS
Similarly, there were protest marches by the Shia
Muslims at Badgam. A Shia Muslim, Mohammed Yunis Yaloom, was shot dead
by militants at Sumbal, Baramula. The local Shias resented the killing
and closed their shops in protest on November 4, 1992. Local citizens of Shopian,
Pulwama, came out on the streets raising anti-militancy slogans
(May 20, 1992) when the body of a local Muslim, Hassan Mir, resident of Arigam, was found hanging from an electric pole. Hassan Mir along with
his son were kidnapped two days earlier following the rescue of his abducted
daughter from the militants by the security forces.
When clashes took place between gun-wielding rival
militant groups resulting in the death of innocent people and the destruction
of property the local population showed their anger and resentment through
slogan shouting demonstrations. Such incidents were recorded at Noorpora,
Pulwama (May 20, 1992); Sopore, Baramula (May 29, 1992); Pattar, Baramula
(September 5, 1992); Khanwari, Srinagar (December 9, 1992).
Following an explosion in a taxi when four Muslims
including a woman were killed and the driver was seriously injured the
locals at Phlipora, Anantnag, demonstrated against the militants on October
13, 1992. Again, when a grenade exploded on the road at Soura, Srinagar,
wounding 14 persons, including four women, the local residents organized
an anti-militant demonstration (November 2, 1992).
The people are also angered by the systematic
damage done to educational institutions by the militants. Muslim fundamentalist
militant groups have gone about destroying school and college buildings
as also kidnapping school boys and girls for forcible indoctrination recruitment
to militant groups or for obtaining ransom money. Except the Islamic fundamentalist
educational institutions, schools and colleges have remained the prime
targets of the militants. Five graduate colleges one professional institution,
79 primary schools, 81 middle schools, 63 high schools and 23 higher secondary
schools have been destroyed by the militants. In addition, 240 other educational
institutions have been damaged. Christian missionary schools at Srinagar
and Baramula have been subjected to repeated bomb attacks.
Militants have entered school campuses, interfered
with the administration of schools attacked libraries and harassed girl
students. This has resulted in heavy dropouts. During 1991-92, dropout
rate of boys was 44 per cent and of girls 50 per cent. This has resulted
in resentment which was voiced when militants entered a school at Hajan
in Bandipur (May 20, 1992) and tried to pull out a student, Ghulam Nabi,
from his class. All the students of the school came out of their classes
and pelted stones on the militants.
The strain of militancy on the economy social
order and law and order has taken a heavy toll of the average Kashmiri's
self-confidence. He is beginning to crack. It is a question of time before
the people's resentment against militants who have interfered with their
daily chores often depriving them of their livelihood turns to fury. And
when that happens, the militants will be truly on the run.