The industry called J&K militancy
22 September 2002
Srinagar: The emergence of a neo-rich section in Jammu and Kashmir in the struggle for ''azadi'' at the cost of innocent lives and the informer network established by various Intelligence agencies seem to have created a sense of dismay among the ordinary people, prompting them to lean towards the democratic process. What a section of Kashmiris describe as ''commercialisation of militancy'' is one of the important factors that led the people of Jammu and Kashmir to opt for the ballot in the first round of elections. In the early 90s, the Kashmiris believed they would attain azadi and the fight against Indian forces was a mean to achieve their goal. ''Over a period, everything went out of hand. The militant organisations and its political outfits started receiving huge sums of money from across the border. Give me one organisation''s name which is not receiving money from Pakistan. Leaders of these outfits are keeping a large chunk of money with them and distributing peanuts to the lower rung militants who are executing the death warrants. This is the main reason why I have decided to take part in electioneering,'' a former militant said. Elaborating his arguments, he said, ''Most of the leaders of these militant outfits who were struggling for hand-to- mouth existence have now bought palatial houses in Delhi and other places and acquired apple orchards. The flow of funds would stop from across the border the moment these leaders stop talking azadi. Unfortunately, we are being asked to toe the line of militants for their vested interests.'' One can hardly find dingy slums in the entire Valley. If one would go deep into the living styles of locals, it is evident that a neo-rich section has emerged in the Valley within a short span of time. This section has been either directly or indirectly involved in militancy at one point of time or the other. ''A poor Kashmiri has become more poor and the persons involved in militancy have made their fortunes. We would love to bear sufferings provided we get something in return. Now, we are convinced that it is impossible to achieve azadi and the militancy is a futile exercise,'' another militant who was one-time activist of Jamat-e- Islami in Kupwara district said. He was seen actively campaigning for People''s Conference candidates in the district. ''Of late, militancy in Jammu and Kashmir has become a big industry. It has become the best way to make money. Why should we boycott polls when the militants are making money in the name of azadi?'' Rashid Ahmed, a resident of Handwara, asked. Initially, the militants were receiving money from Pakistan-sponsored agencies. They became blue-eyed boys of the Indian Intelligence agencies once they are either arrested or surrendered. ''Either way the militants are receiving money. Pakistan is pumping in huge sums to spread violence in Jammu and Kashmir and the Government is spending money to prevent it. No militant is any more interested in azadi. But, we are the ones suffering,'' another former militant commented. Talking to The Pioneer, several Kashmiris said they were convinced that either the present militant or the surrendered militant cannot give them any thing except violence and bloodshed. ''The option left before us for our survival and prosperity is to join the mainstream democracy. The large turnout in the first phase of polling is an indication in this direction,'' Sheikh Abdul Aziz said.