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Soft Tentacles of Terror

November 7, 2020 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army


Propaganda and disinformation to destabilise a region/country form essential components of hybrid warfare. These generate public support, without which terrorists would not survive. How much money Chinese, Pakistani and foreign intelligence agencies continue to pour into India has never been identified and dealt with appropriately because of vote-bank politics. Hence, individuals, journalists, media houses, so-called scholars, organisations and NGOs have a free hand serving foreign masters and making money in the process. Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was always in crosshairs of China-Pakistan and what could be better for them than political hierarchy of National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in league, skunk like Syed Ali Shah Geelani heading Hurriyat relishing crumbs thrown his way and Umar Farooq, so-called Mirwaiz, having a hotline with Pakistan that was finally discovered and cut off. For these rogues Namak Halali is profitable business.

Based on information of terrorists presence in Kushan-Pushpora (twin villages in Kupwara District of J&K), Army launched a cordon and search operation on February 23, 1991 deploying troops from more than one infantry battalion. Standing orders by the Sri Nagar-based Corps Commander, a devout Muslim, required he be woken up every one hour and kept informed of progress during night operations, which was also followed during the Kunan-Pushpora operation conducted in heavy snowfall. After six days, SM Yashin, District Magistrate Kupwara himself filed a FIR alleging 100 women including one aged 80 were raped by Army in Kunan-Pushpora that night. He was obviously under terrorist threat, bribed or radicalised. Over next one year, the National Human Rights Commission chaired by Saifuddin Soz, national and international human rights groups descended on Kashmir Valley, Protests, propaganda and inquiries raged.

Finally, the committee of Press Council of India investigating the Kunan-Pushpora incident concluded that “the rape story on close investigation turns out to be a massive hoax orchestrated by militant groups and their sympathisers and mentors in Kashmir and abroad as a part of sustained and cleverly contrived strategy of psychological warfare and as an entry point for re-inscribing Kashmir on the International Agenda as a human rights issue. The loose-ends and the contradictions in the story expose a tissue of lies by many persons at many levels".

Following crackdown on separatists and Jamaat-e-Islami in J&K in 2018, fictitious allegations of Kunan-Pushpora mass rape resurfaced in media. During the Jaipur Literary Festival in January 2019, a commentary on the Kunan-Pushpora rape was read out from the book ‘Do You Remember Kunan-Pushpora’ authored by Essar Batool and Ifrah Butt who described J&K as India Occupied Kashmir. Similarly, during the Dehradun Literary Festival ‘Valley of Words’ in November 2019, a young Kashmiri girl (obviously deputed) raved about the Kunan-Pushpora rape denouncing the Army and India. Her association with terrorists is not known but captured Pakistani infiltrators even in early 1990s revealed they were given an AK-47, a lakh of rupees in Indian currency and told: kill Indians; pick up any girl / woman and enjoy life; getting killed means 72 hoors in heaven; if captured Indian NGOs will root for their release; local lawyers would not accuse them, and; since they would be imprisoned only in J&K, they would be well looked after in captivity. Active connivance of politicians turned prisons of J&K into radicalisation centres. No J&K government revealed the rise of venereal diseases in the state courtesy Pakistani infiltration.

Now, a publication known for its foreign links and dubious agenda has condemned the recent raid by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) – a human rights group in Srinagar, alleging this was a larger project for NIA to raid “about 10 offices and houses of human rights activists and journalists in Kashmir”. The publication has stated that the raids were an investigation into funding for “secessionist and separatist activities” and that they have seized sensitive documents, electronic equipment and mobile phones. The foreign-linked publication quotes APDP stating it does not receive foreign funds – as if funding for propaganda and psychological warfare comes through overt channels!

APDP says that documents seized by NIA contain sensitive information about victims and their families, and the “the same may be accessed by other agencies, and/or lead to adverse consequences and reprisal against victims and families who have testified and are pursuing justice.” Here the simple question is how has APDP been communicating whatever information they allegedly collected to whoever including the United Nations Commission on Human Rights? Is it through encrypted mode configured by Beijing or do they use couriers provided by the Chinese State Security or Pakistan’s ISI? Because if it is from open channels, then why can it not be accessed by others, as APDP alleges information collected by NIA can?

Politicians, terrorist organisation, separatists and radicals in J&K in connivance NGOs and foreign mentors are continuously working to disgrace the Army, which has its own human rights organisation and investigates every allegation, taking appropriate action where warranted. Kunan-Pushpora is just one example of the numerous false allegations against the Army. Yet there have been cases of politicians at centre and state level contriving to punish military personnel performing bona-fide military duties to achieve their political ends. Hence, just five-six radicalised districts of J&K continue to keep the region destabilised and this is because we just don’t know how to handle the propaganda and information war of our adversaries. Evidently, the current effort is to show that there is genocide in J&K like what Pakistan assisted by China has been doing and continues to do in Balochistan. The question is how much do the powers that be care, if at all?