By Sajjad Shaukat
On September 18, 2016, Indian media had said that four “fidayeen,” highly-trained militants who were carrying guns and grenades stormed a base in Uri, close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and killed at least 17 soldiers in one of the most deadly attacks on security forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in two decades. The four attackers were killed by the army, as an Indian army officer told the BBC.
After the Uri episode, without any investigation, India’s top civil and military officials, including their media started propaganda against Pakistan by accusing that the militants who target the Uri base came from Pakistan’s side of Azad Kashmir and the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba controlled by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were involved in it. Under the mask of the Uri base assault, India started mobilization of troops near the LoC to wage a limited war with Pakistan, while considering surgical strikes on the Azad Kashmir.
In this regard, a senior Home Ministry official and a spokesman of the Indian army allegedly said, “It is clearly a case of cross-border terror attack…the militants infiltrated across the Line of Control from Pakistan before attacking the base in Uri.”
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh called Pakistan “a terrorist state” and army Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that troops were “ready to give a befitting response.”
In this respect, Pakistan rejected allegations that it was involved in the assault at the Uri base. Pakistan Foreign Office representative Nafees Zakaria stated, “India must probe the assault before pointing towards others…they immediately blame Pakistan before any investigation. We reject this.” He added, “Putting the blame on Pakistan was an old strategy of India.
The Adviser to the then Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz categorically rejected India’s “baseless and irresponsible” accusations against Pakistan following the attack on Indian troops in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), calling it a “blatant” attempt to divert attention from the fast deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in the Indian held Kashmir since the death of Burhan Wani.”
In fact, with the help of Indian intelligence agencies, especially RAW, India itself arranged and orchestrated the drama of the Uri base attack not only to defame Pakistan, but also to achieve a number of sinister aims.
Since the false flag terror attack at a military base in Uri, the BJP-led Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has intensified war-hysteria against Pakistan. After deployment of heavy arms and weapons on the LoC, Indian forces have increased troops and continued shelling in Pakistani side of Kashmir. And Pakistani troops are giving a matching response to Indian unprovoked firing across the LoC.
Meanwhile, the then Indian Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhaag had claimed on September 29, 2016 that Indian Army conducted surgical strikes inside Pakistan’s side of Kashmir on the September 28, 2016.
Indian officials stated that the strikes targeted areas close to the LoC, where they believed militants congregate for their final briefings before sneaking across the LoC. An Indian security source stated that the operation began with Indian forces firing artillery across the frontier to provide cover for three to four teams of 70–80 commandos from the 4th and 9th battalions of the Parachute Regiment at several separate points of the LoC. Teams from 4 Para crossed the LoC in the Nowgam sector of Kupwara district, with teams from 9 Para simultaneously crossing the LoC in Poonch district—the special forces teams had travelled 1–3 km on foot, and had begun destroying the terrorist bases with hand-held grenade and 84 mm rocket launchers. The teams then swiftly returned to the Indian side of the Line of Control, suffering only one casualty, a soldier wounded after tripping a land mine.
But, the myth of Indian surgical strikes was exposed, when in a statement, DG of Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lt. Gen, Asim Saleem Bajwa said, “The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by India to create false effects. This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross border fire as surgical strike is a fabrication of truth.” He repeatedly stated that Pakistani troops have been giving equal response to Indian unprovoked firing across the LoC.
Differences also arose between Indian civil and military leadership—as to how cover the falsehood. In this regard, Indian Prime Minister Modi and country’s Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh had decided to prepare a ‘fake video’ of surgical strikes so as to pacify the Indian public, media and the opposition parties.
Online sources suggest that opposition parties in the Indian Congress also demanded to show proof of the surgical strikes, while in the Indian public and politicians demanded the resignation of Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhaag. In these circumstances, Gen. Dalbir Singh had retired as the Army chief and Gen. Bipin Rawat took over the charge as army chief.
Indian media reported that the “appointment of the new Army chief had ignited a political debate with the Janata Dal United (A political party of India), calling it the 1983 emergency-like situation. While, the government had linked the appointment with security reasons in context with Pakistan, China, and terrorism, the Congress party has described the appointment as whimsical cherry picking.”
It is notable that Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat on May 4, this year hinted at retaliatory action against Pakistan, while India blamed the latter for the killing and mutilation of Indian army soldiers across the LoC, despite, Pakistan repeatedly rejected New Delhi’s false allegations.
In this connection, Gen Rawat, while referring to the earlier incident stated, “The Indian army has beefed up its counter-infiltration postures near the LoC…Terrorists are trying to infiltrate.
Like each year, infiltration will commence. We are taking measures. We have beefed up our counter-infiltration postures.”
However, in response to the Indian threat, Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on January 5, 2016 rejected claims by his Indian counterpart about the “so-called surgical strikes” and their possible recurrence. According to ISPR, Army Chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa made it clear that “Pakistan Armed Forces were fully geared to respond to any aggression by India.”
In the recent past, during his visit at the LoC, Gen. Bajwa stated that Pakistan’s armed forces are fully prepared to defend the country against any aggression.
It is noteworthy that the representatives of The Washington Post and The New York Times, who visited the villages adjoining LoC in the disputed Kashmir region, had reported that the people they met there told them that there were no surgical strikes.
In this context, Indian Express wrote on October 5, 2016, “Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam attacked BJP even as he continued to face flak from several quarters for suggesting army’s surgical strikes could be “fake” Unfazed by the heat, even from within his party, Nirupam fired a fresh salvo accusing BJP of trying to extract political mileage out of the national security issue with eyes set on ensuing elections in the state to be held next year.”
It is mentionable that since July 8, 2016 against the martyrdom of the young Kashmir leader Burhan Wani by the Indian security forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in wake of continued sieges and prolonged curfews, Indian forces have martyred several innocent persons who have been protesting against the martyrdom of Burhan Wani.
In wake of new phase of uprising in the Indian Held Kashmir, pressure on the BJP-led Indian government of Modi has been mounting both domestically and internationally to resolve the issue of Kashmir with Pakistan. But, under the directions of the Modi government, Indian security forces continue atrocities on the innocent Kashmiris.
Nevertheless, IOK has been witnessing an unprecedented movement and open rebellion against illegitimate occupation of India. Over 200 people have been martyred and 22,000 injured due to ruthless repression of Indian armed forces since 2016—a large number of the dead and the injured have been youngsters.
The pellet guns used by security forces have damaged the faces of 1800 people and more than 1200 people have partially or wholly lost their eyesight since 2016. Reportedly, Indian army has also started using chemical weapons and smell shelling against innocent protesters in the Indian-controlled Kashmir.
For the last six months, life in IOK has remained mostly paralyzed due to continual curfews. Besides the prolonged curfew, media blackout has also been imposed cutting off the communication channels. Squeezed by the brutal oppression at the hands of Indian Armed forces, the youth have lost patience and through “mob resistance”, they are creating problems for occupied forces. “Wanism” has become leading spirit of their third Intifada in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
Indian forces are also using stage managed incidents to kill Kashmiri youth and gag their voice /demand for independence. An alarming increase in such staged dramas has been witnessed these days, as Indian media extends coverage to any activity to blame Kashmiri freedom activists and Pakistan.
Apart from the oppressive activities, the Delhi government in collaboration with State coalition government led by Mehbooba Mufti is engaged in making demographic changes on lines of Israeli model of building residential ghettos (Sainakbastiyan)/ industrial zones to settle Hindu Pundits and other communities. In this regard, land was procured in Sri Nagar and Annat Nag to build two towns each in these areas. Reportedly, over sixty thousands families are to be settled in these towns.
Off late, in another smear attempt, New Delhi is contemplating to abrogate Article 35A of the Indian constitution unilaterally, without undergoing the formality of obtaining concurrence from the IOK government/legislature. Article 35A is part of the executive order issued by the president of India called Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954. The president issued this Order on 14 May 1954 under Article 370 of the constitution of India to legitimize the Indian occupation of IOK. The article prohibits a non-J&K resident from buying property in the State and ensures job reservation for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) residents.
Jahangir Iqbal Ghanie, Jammu and Kashmir’s Advocate General, told a newspaper that three petitions have challenged the article in the Indian Supreme Court, but in the two other petitions, no notice was issued to the state government. A bench headed by Justice J S Khehar will hear the petitions challenging Article 35A in October 2017. Earlier the top court had favoured hearing of the matter by a five-judge constitution bench to determine, if Article is ultra vires of the Constitution or if there is any procedural lapse. The court had said that a three-judge bench will hear the matter and refer it to a five-judge bench if necessary.
The issue has also triggered an unlikely camaraderie. Perhaps for the first time in decades, political parties cutting across the political spectrum in the Valley are on the same page, as they all want to preserve Article 35A. Joint Resistance Leadership comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik asked the Kashmir bar associations, Kashmiri diaspora all over the world to hold peaceful protest demonstration against “conspiracies” to scrap the state subject law as the issue is a “matter of life and death” for people of J&K. Reportedly, IOK Chief Minister and opposition parties have also objected to any tinkering with the article.
Most people believe this is the Centre’s design to change the demographic character of the Muslim majority state. Some fear that the centre might entice the Hindus to buy land and property in Jammu, Samba and other districts. That will change the demographic character of the Jammu region as well. Such a sit will result in another mass uprising and Indian Held Kashmir will become Palestine, where life will become an everyday fight for survival.
Some feel that move to abrogate Article 35A will have huge ramifications on the ground as the article was included in the Constitution top reserve IOK peoples land rights. Keeping for UN General Assembly’s annual session, being held in late September, some felt that the timing of the move is quite crucial, as New Delhi wants to trigger violence in the valley through provocating the people on abrogation of 35A and killing innocent Kashmiri people in fake encounters to project to the world that such activities are externally instigated.
There is also a sinister campaign to target APHC leadership by implicating them in financial scams and link it to terror funding by Pakistan. It is clear ploy to create a wedge between APHC old guards and youth of Kashmir.
As a matter of fact, under the cover of the false flag operation at the Uri base, New Delhi’s main aim was to continue war-mongering diplomacy against Pakistan and to deflect the attention of the international community from the new phase of Kashmiri Intifada in wake of pressure which has been mounting on the Modi government both domestically and internationally to resolve the issue of Kashmir with Pakistan in wake of differences between Indian security forces which have been deployed at the LoC.
While, differences existed between Indian security forces on the increase of troops—a renowned newspaper of Pakistan and some online sources disclosed that a serious rift has been reported from the Line of Control region between Indian Army officials and Border Security Force (BSF) personnel.
Nonetheless, India orchestrated the drama of the terror attack at the Uri base to obtain various sinister designs against Pakistan in the Indian Held Kashmir where Indian atrocities continue unabated, while the myth of its surgical strikes inside Pakistani side of Azad Kashmir was clearly exposed.