In occupied Kashmir, for the first time in years, Indian Army, police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have admitted that India is losing war in the territory.
The Indian Army’s top Commander in Northern Command in a surprisingly candid admission told a US-based news agency that the Indian Army had failed to win ‘hearts and minds’ of the Kashmiri people despite running the so-called Operation Sadbhavna (operation goodwill) for the past more than one decade in the territory.
General D.S. Hooda, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 16 Corps, was quoted as having said that the Army was not comfortable doing anti-militancy operations as the crowds favouring Mujahideen had become a huge problem. “It’s a big problem, a challenge for us to conduct anti-militant operations now,” he added. He noted that armed soldiers had little hope of competing with the militants for public sympathy.
The General also admitted that the growing public support for Mujahideen had not only hit Army’s intelligence capabilities but had also hit the operational capacity as people had started interfering during ongoing encounters in a bid to give Mujahideen a chance to escape.
The General then went on to say what many within Indian security establishment see but refuse to believe. “Frankly speaking, I’m not comfortable anymore conducting operations if large crowds are around,” Hooda said. “Militarily, there’s not much more to do than we already have done. … We’re losing the battle for a narrative,” Lt. General Hooda added.
The top General’s view was also seconded by the paramilitary CRPF that assists the police in law and order and operations against Mujahideen. “During an average counterinsurgency operation, general law and order has become more important to tackle than the actual operation itself. It’s a matter of serious concern,” IG Operations CRPF, Nalin Prabhat, said.
“South Kashmir seems like a liberated zone and I am not joking. Militants can shoot and flee at will. There is really nothing we can do other than watch. The militants can only do this because they know they have public support. We are sitting ducks,” a senior police officer said in a media interview.
Media reports quoting police sources said that policemen had for the first time since 2010 had begun to hide their identity and profession to avoid being attacked.