The Cease Fire Dilemma

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The Indian army is one of the few armies in the world which have acquired tremendous experience in fighting insurgency/militancy. Its been facing this menace since India’s independence ; Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Srilanka, Punjab , Kashmir etc.

This huge experience of fighting militancy has taught us that ;

Military can never provide a permanent solution to insurgency/militancy. It can only bring the militants and those supporting them closer to the reality and look for alternate peaceful solutions to the ongoing problem, which can be provided by the civilian Govt.

The military, inorder to force the terrorists to come to the negotiating table, has to not only eliminate the militants but also win the hearts and minds of the local population.

The militants, when under pressure and driven out from urban areas, try every trick up their sleeve like blame military for human rights violations, instigate local population against military and also target their own people who support the military or support peaceful means of protest.

There are always many in the society who become stake holders in the violence or are hand in glove with the militants like some media men, NGOs, lawyers, intellectuals, politicians etc.

Usually when the militancy is in its last leg and people are tired of violence, the cruelty of militants and also their misdeeds, the militants turn their guns towards their own people.

And when this happens more and more people come out and provide information to the security forces that results in more number of militants getting killed.

Probably this is the stage through which Kashmir’s militancy is going through right now.

However, this is the stage the Govt has to be careful, too., It can spoil its chances also of finding a permanent solution, which appears to be insight, if it fails to exploit the situation politically, particularly, when the people are tired of violence.

And at the same time any leniency can also give a fresh lease of life to the militants.

The demand of Mehbooba Mufti is to be seen in this light.

When the terrorists back bone has been literally broken and they are using human beings as their shield and also targeting locals, entertaining Muftis request can lead to both ; wining the hearts of the people and can also give a fresh lease of life to the militants.

Undoubtedly, the militants would exploit the cease fire duration to once again reorganise, regroup and re strengthen themselves in built up areas.

Last time when Vajpayeeji resorted to this cease fire in Valley, the terrorists used this period to do just the above. Despite repeated recommendations from army not to extend the duration of cease fire, the Govt paid no heed and it extended the duration thrice. So, in effect the cease fire gave terrorists a time of almost 6 months to regroup and reorganise themselves.

This time, Ms Mufti is asking for just a month of cease fire.

If at all, the Govt decides to be magnanimous and agrees to her requests then it must do so with some strings attached.

There must be clear cut rules for the cease fire so that the terrorists do not get a free run of almost 30 days to regroup and reorganise.

Notwithstanding the above terms and conditions, the terrorists will still find a way out to regroup. My view is, one month is too short a period for the terrorists to achieve any thing worth while, But the Govt which had already earned a rapport with locals during the floods, the cease fire may once again help the Govt to win their hearts. and that may help immensely in finding an amicable solution to the ongoing strife.

After all, it is the people who can finally defeat the terrorists, like it happened in Punjab, in Nagland and in Assam.