Amidst unprecedented uncertainty and panic as India mulls options of avenging the Pulwama attack, these are the questions taking round irrespective of the direction connection of some of them with the security strategy, particularly in backdrop of major terror attack which has shocked and angered the whole country.
Question: Is India preparing for a physical military attack against Pakistan?
Our Assessment: The mood of the nation back an attack and that is what exactly one skims from the speeches of many BJP leaders as also the interview of Home Minister Rajnath Singh broadcast Friday evening. Post the Pulwama attack, India has already inflicted Pakistan with heavy diplomatic and economic cost. But strictly speaking, India may not like to go for a physical full scale war as its consequences would be equally destructive for both countries. In his speech in Tonk, Rajasthan, this morning, Prime Minister finished off something highly significant in a single sentence: “Imran Khan told me that he son of Pathan. Let us see if he is able to keep his word”. Modi’s this sentence appears to be something like waring off war clouds. Let us see how things move from here.
Question: Could there be a limited action inside, Pakistan, PoK?
Our Assessment: A limited attack means another surgical strike. The earlier surgical strike did not bring desired results. Another will not only be a political joke but also a trigger for retaliation from Pakistan irrespetive of whether India is interested in war or not.
Question: Is Article 35A going?
Our Assessment: Any action, judicial or executive, had not direct link with Pulwama attack and can not be seen as direct response of the government but one should not forget that this is something already under stress. The case could come up for hearing before the Supreme Court anytime next week. One just cant speculate on orders of the courts but the fact of the matter is that both options are there. The Supreme Court could uphold or strike down the Act of Constitution of India which forms BJP’s commitment to its core electoral constituency. As of now the defence of the Article in Supreme Court appears to be very weak
Question: What if Article 35A goes?
Our Assessment: This is one such issue on which all parties in Kashmir are on the same page. The is massive support to Article 35A outisde Kashmir Valley, in Jammu and Ladakh. Striking down of Article 35A, whether through Court or executive orders, will have massive repurcussions. What is fraught with unprecedented danger is the fact that supporters of Article 35A and its opponents are clearly divided not only along regional lines but also religious lines. Tinkering of this constitutional provision without a consensus and in the middle of an electoral heat could trigger communal clashes and protracted violence.
The Kashmir Valley in particular and whole of Jammu and Kashmir in general is a state of panic. As military jets pierece the calm of skies and people hear about unprecedented security measures the state government is making, the thought that comes to mind is of war or something else not lesser.
As India threatened Pakistan of imminent punitive action and Islamabad made desparate efforts lobbying with international community to avert any physical war, the people in Jammu and Kashmir have been left to make their own guesses of the unfolding actions. Despite a crackdown on terror outfits Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, Pakistan is now again resorting to a bellicose language of surprising India.
Late last night purported fax message of the Ministry of Home Affairs addressed to many officials including Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary asking for security deployment suddenly surfaced on the social media, sending out panic waves. The order, which has not been verified by any authorised official, mentioned about rushing in 100 companies of Paramilitary to Jammu and Kashmir immediately. The order, however, doesnt suggest in any way any specific area of deployment like Kashmir Valley or the areas along Line of Control or the International Border with Pakistan. Some unconfirmed reports also say that the forces have arrived by air.
The rumour mill in Kashmir suspected a possible judicial or executive order on the controversial Article 35A which empowers Jammu and Kashmir to make citizen laws.
Early on Saturday morning reports said people living along the Line of Control in Rajouri and Poonch have been asked to move to safer places. Since the government is not clarifying on anything, such a move could be an indication of a possible action across the Line of Control under consideration of New Delhi.
CRACKDOWN IN KASHMIR
Police swooped on Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir members in Kashmir during the intervening night of Friday and Saturday, and detained around two dozen of its cadres, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, officials said here.
Though police termed the detentions as routine, officials privy to the developments said this is the first major crackdown on the organisation that is part of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, a separatist conglomerate.
The Jamaat issued a statement condemning the detentions and said “…The move is a well designed conspiracy to pave way for further uncertainty in the region.”
The Jamaat claimed that during the intervening night of February 22 and February 23, police and other agencies launched a mass arrest drive and raided many houses in the Valley, wherein dozens of its central and district level leaders were arrested, including its Ameer (chief) Jamaat Dr Abdul Hamid Fayaz and advocate Zahid Ali (spokesperson).
The Jamaat cadres were picked up from various places, including Anantnag, Pahalgham, Dialgam, Tral — all in south Kashmir.
The Jamaat termed the raids as “fishy” at a time when the Supreme Court is to hear a petition regarding Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
“…The way forces personnel unleashed the spree of mass arrest and detained dozens of Jamaat members prior to the hearing seems something is hatching behind the curtains. Any attempt of eroding or tampering Article 35A is unacceptable for people of Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.
Besides this, police also detained JKLF chief Yasin Malik on Friday night.
Additional troops have been also rushed to Jammu and Kashmir but no one has been able to provide reasons for such a massive deployment.
The action comes eight days after an audacious terror attack on a convoy in Pulwama district in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.