As a Kashmiri, one obviously is enraged that an elected sarpanch was murdered in cold-blood by unidentified gunmen (a pet term for suspected terrorists). Not just because it was a Kashmiri Pandit murdered but also because an attempt at some semblance of democracy was murdered. Sarpanches are decision-makers, elected by the village-level constitutional body of local self-government called the Gram Sabha (village government) in India. The sarpanch, together with other elected panchayat members constitutes the gram panchayat, in which he is the focal point of contact between government officers and the village community and retains power for five years.
Over the years, 19 sarpanches have been murdered in Kashmir, Ajay Pandita being the latest. Not just that, a woman sarpanch within a week was videotaped in a kind of interrogation in an orchard, clearly being warned and made to resign as her pleas were being taped. Despite repeated requests, no security was provided for these upholders of democracy. Important to note in this is that there is an active war going on in the state, since 1989. Subsequent events have made it very clear from day one that pro-India voices and figures need security and open support of the state/government. At times certain individuals may ask for covert security, due to risk of coming into the crosshairs of the terror groups. These have to be indulged, as India needs a semblance of democracy on the ground.
Instead, we saw Z-security provided to soft separatist politicians, conflict entrepreneurs, and prosecession Hurriyat members. This appeasement of soft-separatism, mollycoddling of the “Old Establishment” exposed New Delhi’s knee-jerk reactions to events on the ground and the rush to quieten things with the numerous packages and offers for the Hurriyat to not chant Pakistan, and the mainstream parties to maintain a false India-patriotism for optics.
After the brutal murder of the sarpanch, the TRF (The Resistance Front, actually a front for the LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen) in the Valley has also issued a warning by putting up posters: “Do not be an informer and do not collaborate with India: Final warning by The Resistance Front to Kashmiri Pandits.” The poster has been issued by some Commander Hamza of the Resistance Front. The sarpanch killings and subsequent threats are aimed at terrorising the silent majority further into silence, and manufacturing a consent for jihad which the intifada factory, both overseas and domestic will then exhibit as all Kashmiris wanting secession from India. That has been the tactic in all the three decades of the Kashmir conflict.
What has New Delhi’s plan been to counter this? It is to be noted that many mainstream politicians have been locked up and released only recently. It dawned quite late on New Delhi that the root of the terrorism and corruption prevailing in the state stems from the long innings of these politicians and political parties. Yes, NC workers have been killed and targeted for belonging to the said party, but it is more for the party’s policies and perspective of it being an Indian puppet rather than the NC “holding the Indian flag high in the state”. The 1987 rigged elections keep propping up in a Kashmir debate, which enabled the first group of youth to crossover after being disillusioned of New Delhi, let’s not forget that.
Of course, detaining politicians without any charge sheet or case or trial is undemocratic, but this over-dependence on the “Old Establishment” has to go. Otherwise, as Albert Einstein observed, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” New blood needs to be brought in, and grassroots workers need to be protected; equal representation of Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists needs to be maintained in all political parties. Ex-Army men and retired servicemen can be brought in for the purpose of security of these sarpanches because they are the ones dealing with the overground workers of terror groups directly, often nefarious mafiastyled henchmen working both sides, like the ones threatening the woman in the video.
The sarpanches have been asking for protection since day one, and the communal angle notwithstanding, all of them are at high risk for even existing in their roles. Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, an often misinterpreted quote of Samuel Johnson does not hold on the subcontinent. The first generation politicians of new India after 1947, and in Kashmir after the Instrument of Accession, were spawned by the freedom struggle, which entailed considerable personal and professional sacrifice. Wrote Minhaz Merchant in his 1985 article ‘The First Refuge of Scoundrels?’: “Only men of mettle, who could make those sacrifices, were prepared to enter public life.”
For Kashmir, those lofty standards are still in place despite dynastic politics, when people like Ajay Pandita, despite the enormous risk, come forward to uphold democracy. New Delhi needs to make sure that those picking up the mantle from Ajay Pandita and others like him, should be well-protected and made to feel secure.
Arshia Malik is a writer, social commentator and educationist with a focus on conflict zones, especially South Asia.
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Two Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists killed in the J&K encounter
Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGH), an Al-Qaeda-linked terror outfit in Kashmir, has suffered a major setback. In an encounter on the outskirts of Srinagar, security forces killed two more AGH terrorists.
The AGH terrorists were apprehended after the army and police received specific information about their presence.
During the exchange of fire, forces killed two local Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists from AGH. Both terrorists are Pulwama residents who have been involved in a number of terrorist attacks.
According to police, the terrorists were also involved in an attack on a migrant worker in Pulwama.
N. Korea enacts law on preventive nuclear strikes, France calls “threat to peace”
France criticised North Korea’s adoption of a law announcing its preparedness to launch preventive nuclear strikes on Friday, calling it a “threat to international and regional peace and security.”
The announcement from the foreign ministry came after North Korean state media earlier on Friday reported that Pyongyang had enacted a law authorising preventative strikes, including in the event of conventional attacks.
“This new escalation on the part of the North Korean authorities represents a threat to international and regional peace and security,” said a ministry spokeswoman.
France “notes with great concern the increasingly aggressive declarations from North Korea,” she added.
The decision by Pyongyang practically puts an end to the possibility of denuclearization talks after leader Kim Jong Un said that the nation’s nuclear status is now “irreversible.”
The announcement comes at a time when the North and South are experiencing greater conflict.
In addition to conducting a record number of weapons tests this year, Pyongyang has blamed the COVID-19 outbreak in its territory on Seoul.
China has successfully tested its first solar-powered drone capable of acting as a satellite
A Chinese government official informed in a tweet that China has successfully tested its first fully solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), named Qimingxing-50, which can fly for months and can function even as a satellite if required.
What is the significance of this test flight?
The Qimingxing-50, with a wingspan of 50 m, is a high-altitude long-endurance drone that is capable of high-altitude aerial reconnaissance, assessing forest fire and can also be used for communications.
This technology will bolster Chinese defences in space and at sea. It can be used in the fields of renewable energy, new materials, and aeronautical engineering. The Chinese official also asserted that this test flight is an important step towards sustainable development.
Use of the UAV as a satellite:
The UAV, whose name translates as “Morning Star-50” in English, is claimed to be capable of functioning uninterrupted for months. This capability of having a long-endurance flight gives it a use case of operating as a satellite.
Like satellites, it is fully electric-driven, powered by solar energy and can operate at 20 km above the Earth’s surface for an extended period of time continuously. It is also referred to as a “High Altitude Platform Station” or a “pseudo-satellite.”
It can be used when there is unavailability or disruption in satellite services. The report says that compared to the cost and complexity of installing a satellite in orbit, this UAV is much more cost-effective and easy to operate.
Strict security measures have been taken at the Central Vista ahead of the inauguration by PM Modi
As Prime Minister Nrendra Modi is going to inaugurate the newly revamped Central Vista on Thursday, over 1,500 police personnel have been deployed for security over there.
A senior official of Delhi Police who is aware of the security arrangements said that the area has been divided into eight zones, which will be manned all day by eight deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) and additional deputy commissioners of police (ADCPs).
The officer, on condition of anonymity, said, “Besides 17 assistant commissioners of police (ACPs), 43 inspectors and nearly 1,200 upper and lower-rank staff of Delhi Police will be patrolling in the areas. While ten Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) companies will patrol the area during the day, two additional CAPF companies have been deployed for security arrangements during the evening shift.As many as five patrolling teams in 10 mobile patrolling vans (MPVs) will be keeping a constant watch on all the public movement in the area.”
Another officer said that, “The Multi Zone Door Frame Metal Detectors (DFMD) have been installed at 90 points in 25 locations in the area. Apart from one anti-drone gun, one counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has also been installed in the area, to detect, track, and ultimately disrupt and destroy any suspicious aerial intrusion. While five teams of spotters will keep a strict vigil in the area, another five traffic decongestion teams have been deployed there to immediately remove any traffic bottlenecks in the area. As many as five SWAT teams have been deployed in the area to avert any emergency crisis.”
The official added that drones will not be permitted near Central Vista on Thursday.
Pakistani rangers opened fire on BSF patrolling party in J&K
As per the reports, Pakistani rangers opened fire on a Border Security Force (BSF) patrolling party in Jammu and Kashmir’s Arnia sector on Tuesday morning, prompting the BSF to respond appropriately to the “unprovoked firing”.
“Today morning the alert BSF Jammu troops gave a befitting reply to the unprovoked firing by Pak rangers on BSF patrolling party in Arnia Sector. No loss (of lives) or injury (reported) to the BSF troops,” a statement issued by a BSF spokesperson said.
On February 24, 2021, India and Pakistan agreed to strictly adhere to all agreements and understandings concerning cross-border firing along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir, among other sectors.
Other incidents of firing by Pakistani troops have occurred in the last year and a half, but Tuesday’s incident was “a major one” and occurred on a day when Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was in India for talks, an officer anonymously said.
According to a second officer, the Indian Army and BSF respond immediately and effectively to unprovoked firings and ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC and IB.
Before the agreement in 2021, there were 5,133 ceasefire violations in 2020, 3,479 in 2019, and 2,140 in 2018. However, this number dropped to around 700 last year. Statistics for 2022 are not yet available.
The Indian government has maintained that it is Pakistan’s responsibility to create a conducive environment by taking credible, verifiable, and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for cross-border terrorism against India in any way.
India sends the body of Lashkar terror operative via LoC in Poonch
Pakistan accepted the body of Tabarak Hussain, Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist operative via Chakan Da Bagh on the Line of Control in Poonch district on Monday.
“Officials of the Indian Army and civil administration took the body of slain terrorist in an ambulance to Chakan Da Bagh where it was handed over to Pakistani army officials,” said a senior official.
Tabarak Hussain, son of Mistri Malik of Sabzkote in PoK, was apprehended in an injured state by the army on August 21 in the Jhanger area of the Nowshera sector in Rajouri.
Tabarak was apprehended while allegedly infiltrating with a fidayeen terror group to attack Indian army posts along the LoC.
However, Indian army troops noticed the movement and opened fire on the intruding terror group, injuring Tabarak while other infiltrators fled to PoK.
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