Indian security forces heaved a big sigh of relief after they successfully neutralised on August 1 dreaded Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Abu Dujana and three other aides in a fierce encounter at Hakripura near Pulwama in Kashmir.
Dujana, who was carrying a bounty of Rs 15 lakh, was a resident of Gilgit-Baltistan region and had been casuing severe devastation and targeting the Indian security forces for the past several years, especially the Indian Army as he believed it was singularly causing obstruction to the "struggle" by the Kashmiris.
He had carried out as many as three dozen attacks on the Army with most the notorious being the Udhampur strike which killed BSF personnel too affecting the morale of the combatants engaged in tackling terrorism in Kashmir.
We have noticed numerous encounters in the recent past eliminating terrorists coming from across the border as also from within. There does not seem to be any let-up in the offensive being relentlessly pursued by the security forces.
Purely from an operational point of view as also dealing with terror incidents, it's a very welcome trend and should continue. This is also imperative in the light of the NIA arrests of Hurriyat separatists and, most importantly, exposing their nefarious links with the Pakistani ISI and money-laundering. A large section of the Kashmiri youths is disenchanted with the exposed undesirable activities of the Hurriyat and their children enjoying affluence and a life of luxury while the Kashmiris in general are left to continue their struggle under abject poverty.
Abu Dujana and three other aides were killed in a fierce encounter at Hakripura near Pulwama in Kashmir.
While the going is good, or so it seems, it would appear advisable to continue the aggressive pursuits of the operations and cleanse the state of terrorists and their sympathisers.
Another silver lining vis-a-vis the public opinion was visible in a recently held (July 28-29) conclave - "Understanding Kashmir". This conclave gave opportunity to the Kashmiri youths to articulate their thoughts in a very frank and forthright manner. Some of the speakers and their views merit mention here. Insha Mir, one of the prime movers of the conclave, felt that the Kashmir issue being beyond "resolution" needed a Plan B. And, to deal with the problem, the Kashmiri youth should be gradually readied and mentally prepared to live with the ongoing conflict. Another voice was aptly articulated by Syed Mujtaba Rizvi, the cultural entrepreneur of Kashmir. Rizvi is well-known for his crusade against corruption and nepotism in the J&K establishment. He was critical of the government shutting down internet facilities depriving the Kashmiri youths from exploring opportunities for their future as well as livelihood.
Significantly, Shazia Bakshi, co-head of Confederation of Indian Industry's "International Engagements, Young Indians", gave vent to thoughts which cannot be ignored anymore. She said that the Kashmiris' allegiance towards India should not be questioned.
She claimed herself to be an Indian first, then a Kashmiri and a Muslim. She also disclosed having gone to Pakistan and singing the Indian national anthem in the Jinnah Hall in Karachi, and despite all that she and others are asked to prove their loyalty.
Importantly, many felt at the conclave that Zakir Musa and Burhan Wani cannot be the role models of the Kashmiri youth as these names were more "identified with guns". Such statements must be encouraged. Speakers also felt that the ongoing radicalisation was more political than religious. This needs to be combated. They gave the example of Zakir Musa who got radicalised while studying in Chandigarh and not in Kashmir.
Some of the voices heard in the conclave are noteworthy for further bringing the youths to the mainstream instead of living in isolation. In this context, it must also be stated that that journalist Samir Yaseer felt that Kashmiris, being a fearless lot, should not contest the abrogation of Article 370. He claimed they can live without that, subtly contradicting chief minister Mehbooba Mufti not to press for retaining Article 370. Here, we see new views which need to be adequately capitalised to consolidate gains out of their articulations.
All said and done, it must be said that the Indian security agencies are working in perfect tandem, a fresh trend which did not come to notice for some time. Hunting down wanted terrorists like Abu Dujana was preceded by a well-coordinated intelligence provided by military intelligence, RAW, IB, state intelligence and possibly by technical outfits, leading not just to Dujana's encounter, but also success in all other operations.
The state police is also upbeat with repeated success and this must be acknowledged in good measure. Prime Minister Narendra Modi would perhaps do well to appreciate the work of the security forces during his upcoming Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
A pat on the back from no less than the country's PM would make a substantial difference in encouraging them to keep the good work going in an apparent bid to bring Kashmir back to the rails.
The challenge may look difficult, but not impossible.