Mufti embarrasses Hurriyat, Pak suicide bombers kill over 180 in J&K
29 November 2002
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak
Jammu: A significant piece of information: Britain has a new crop of inquisitive watchers of human casualties in Jammu and Kashmir as a result of suicide bombers. Most of these watchers,it has been found, belong to the Asia Pacific Fundation, an independent think-thank. According to a message received here, Britain’s International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism has, in recent times, built data vis- a-vis terrorist activities across Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the number of deaths caused by suicide bombers. The message, in fact, made a pointed reference to the recent meeting in London, where it was publicly stated that over 180 persons in J&K, including 13 in the Raghunath temple,were killed by suicide attackers since 1999. While furnishing these and other details at the meeting on ‘Militant Islam in Asia’, Erric Herren of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism had a thought-provoking finding: Stopping suicide attackers is not impossible. But Kashmir presented a particularly difficult problem in stopping the suicide bomber. Last year alone there were as many as 50 suicide attacks in J&K. Erric Herren, in fact, was quoted as saying: ''It is becoming something of a mass movement among terrorists. Almost every mission is a success''. Considered a leading authority on suicide bombings, Herren has found that while the suicide bomber often uses a truck or some vehicle, a suicide attack by foot is most difficult to counter. Erric Herren has also been quoted as saying: ''A suicide bomber is between 15 and 25 years of age, male, and may be Kashmiri but is most likely to be Pakistani, Afghan, Arab or a European-born Muslim''. Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir Government headed by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed seems determined to conduct an experiment on the political scene, almost similar to the one which was carried out in 1964 by then Chief Minister, Mr Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq. It was the policy of liberalisation which Mr Sadiq pursued. The Mufti hasn’t given any specific name to his Government’s experiment. He has chosen to call it political process for restoration of peace and normalcy. Mufti Sayeed’s think-tank has reasons to argue that if Mr Sadiq’s policy of liberalisation inter alia led to the ''massive'' improvement in Delhi’s image among the Kashmiri masses as a result of the restoration of civil liberties after years of the denial of freedom of speech, one shouldn’t doubt the bona fides of Mufti Sayeed and his team in their efforts to draw more and more people from the disgruntled and disillusioned segment of society into the national mainstream. What is important to take due cognizance of is a measure of panic and uneasiness caused in the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) by the marked acceptance of Mufti Sayeed as a leader by a sizeable section of the Kashmiri masses. The Hurriyat leadership may, for obvious political and strategic reasons, find it necessary to propagate, through its carriers and couriers, the ''undisputed representatrive character'' of the 23-party conglomerate.But the altering scenario has a message of the Mufti’s popularity, growing gradually, over the Hurriyat Conference. Since this phenomenon seems to have triggered spasms of restlessness in the most powerful anti-India lobby across the border in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), possibility of more and more incidents of terrorist violence on this side of the border in the coming days and weeks cannot be ruled out. True, a substantial section of the local militants may not openly come out in aid of Pakistan. But the availability of hundreds of foreign militants now-a-days in a number of areas in the State cannot be taken lightly. They will, as strongly felt by the security forces and intelligence community, keep the terror pot boiling. The Chief Minister himself is conscious of this reality. That is why he has reiterated that the police and other security agencies in J&K have to make a difference between the local and foreign militants.