Since 1980s a stream of weapons, ideology and men has been uninterruptedly
channeled from Pakistan into Jammu and Kashmir, precipitating a cycle of violence in
which tens of thousands of Kashmiri civilians and security forces have lost their lives.
This pall of insecurity affects each and every aspect of life in Kashmir. Militants regularly
issue threats to lockdown markets, shut schools, calling for curfews disrupting all civilian
life. Posters calling for boycott appear overnight on street corners and gun wielding
militants appear on the front porches of those who dare to defy these calls. Defiance is
punished by death.
In 2019, after a constitutional amendment in India rolled back the special status
accorded to Jammu and Kashmir, militants called for a complete shut down of all civilian
life including closure of fruit markets, without any regard to the economic difficulties that
the farmers and cultivators will face. Kashmir cultivates and exports nearly 2 million
metric tons of apples every year and nearly 700,000 families are dependent on this
trade. Militants then proceeded to attack the home of a fruit trader in Sopore, the
region’s main fruit-growing area, for carrying on with his business wounding his son,
granddaughter and another family member. Truck drivers who ferried apples were shot
Attacks and targeted killings of civilians and stand-off attacks on police and security
forces have continued in the recent years with an uninterrupted supply of weapons from
Pakistan. The Indian Government shut down cross border trade in Jammu and Kashmir
between India and Pakistan in 2019, after trucks involved in the trade were caught by
the security forces carrying weapons into the Indian side. This deficit in weaponry has
provoked desperate attempts by Pakistan in recent years to find new routes and modes
of weapon delivery to militants in Kashmir. In June 2020 Border Security Forces in India
shot down a China-made drone, carrying arms and explosives, that had crossed the
international border from the Pakistani side near Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir.
The hexacopter was carrying an M4 Carbine rifle and seven grenades. Similarly, on
September 19, weapons including AK 47 rifles and our grenades were recovered from
three arrested militants who claimed that arms and ammunition were received via
drones. The incidents of weapon drops through drones has not been limited to Jammu
and Kashmir. Reports of drone drops have taken place in nearby states of India along
the international border between India and Pakistan.
The violence has stunted growth, affected infrastructure, investment and disrupted even
the basic functioning of democracy. In 2019, during Parliamentary elections in India,
militants attacked polling stations, hurling grenades to dissuade people from exercising
their right of franchise. Preventing people from voting has been a regular feature of the
militancy in Kashmir in the last three decades. Political workers have been killed before,
after and during the elections in Jammu and Kashmir as a pressure tactic. The region
has witnessed a history of attacks on members of legislative assembly (MLAs), local government leaders, political workers and many others who were directly or indirectly
involved with elections.
In recent weeks, militants have taken to targeting policemen and their family members.
In June itself two policemen were shut down while they were not on duty. Militants
affiliated with the Jaish-e-Mohamed organization, an extremist terrorist organization
banned in Pakistan but which continues to freely operate from its territory, barged into
the house of Special Police Officer Fayaz Ahmed and shot down his wife and daughter
when they tried to protect him. All three succumbed to the bullets.
While inflicting this cycle of violence on the region, Pakistan has consistently raised its
claim over the territory at international forums, hiring ‘activists’ organizing seminars ,
staging protests attempting to hoodwink the international community into buying into its
claim. The claim itself is based on Pakistan’s use of ‘Islam’ to bolster nationalism.
Pakistani leadership has instrumentalized Islam to fuel irredentist-type nationalism in
Pakistan. Pakistan’s claim to Jammu and Kashmir despite the erstwhile princely state
choosing to accede to India in 1947, lies solely upon Pakistan’s belief that religion
should be the basis of nationality. This has led Pakistan to fuel extremism in the region
while attempting to wipe out the centuries old indigenous heritage of the Kashmir region
which fostered and promoted religious harmony and syncretism – Kashmiriyat.
The fanning of extremist sentiments has led to anti-minority attacks and exodus. A
series of attacks and pogroms directed against the Hindu community which is in
minority in Kashmir took place shortly after the inception militancy in 1980s. As of 2016,
only 2,000–3,000 Kashmiri Hindus remain in Kashmir compared to approximately
300,000–600,000 in 1990, thus permanently altering the social fabric and culture of the
Despite repeated calls by the international community to stop persecution of religious
minorities on its own territory, and to stop fuelling and funding extremism inside and
outside Pakistan, these have been tough habits for Pakistan to shirk, and has continued
to adversely affect the lives of those whose misfortune it is to share a border with