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J&K: 2 decades of violence & 2 myths

5 July 2011 576 views 5 Comments

Many of you must have read/heard about these two fairly “popular” myths about J&K:

  1. Kashmir is the ‘most heavily militarized zone’ in the world” or its variations: “There is an Indian soldier for every ten civilians in Kashmir”; “The Indian troops-to-Kashmiri people ratio in the occupied Kashmir is the largest ever soldiers-to-civilians ratio in the world”
  2. The last two decades of violence in the state have left 10,000 missing and 100,000 dead

Pragmatic_desi has done a fine job of exploding the first one…Excerpts from Mythbusting: Soldiers-to-civilians ratio in Kashmir (emphasis added):

These myths are based on many erroneous premises. Let us start with the police. The total sanctioned strength of Jammu and Kashmir police, including the civil police and the armed police, is 68,125. Based on the actual strength of the police in 2009 and the population of the state as per 2001 census, the police-to-population ratio comes to 683 per 100,000 people. As per 2009 data, the national average for the police-to-population ratio is 133, while the UN mandated figure is 250-300. Considering the violence experienced in the state during the last two decades, the existing police-to-population ratio is not abnormally high.

Next come the paramilitary forces. As per this statement by the Union minister of state for Parliamentary Affairs, Planning and Science and Technology, Ashwani Kumar, there are 86,260 people from the central forces deployed in the complete state of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1989, before the insurgency started, there were 28,782 central armed forces troopers deployed in the state.

Finally the army. The official figures of the army men deployed in the state is not available but in 2007, the army authorities had reportedly stated that there are 3,37,000 soldiers deployed within the geographical boundaries of the state. Leave alone the fact that at least3o,000 soldiers have since moved out of the state, the deployment of soldiers needs to placed in the right context.

Barring the Rashtriya Rifles, which is a specialist counterinsurgency paramilitary force manned by the army, all the Indian army units are deployed on the Line of Control, Actual Ground Position Line (both with Pakistan) and the Line of Actual Control (with China). Even the Rashtriya Rifles are mainly deployed in the semi-urban and rural areas of Kashmir. There are a total of 65 Rashtriya Rifles battalion in the state, and at an estimated average of 1,000 soldiers per unit, this would lead to 65,000 Rashtriya Rifles troopers in the state.

And so…

the actual strength of security force personnel dealing with the people in the state is nowhere near the figure of 7,00,000 which is usually floated in the media.

Barring the 2,20,000 policemen, paramilitary troopers and Rashtriya Rifles soldiers deployed among the population, the rest of the army soldiers shall continue to be deployed on the LoC, AGPL and LAC irrespective of the internal security situation in the state. Even among the 2,20,000 troopers, a fair share of the police force would still be required to maintain the law and order in the state which has a population of 1,25,48,926 as per the 2011 census.

Meanwhile, let us get another fact out of the way. These deployments are for the complete state, and not just for the Kashmir Valley. For example, the Rashtriya Rifles units are deployed as Counter Insurgency Force (CIF)- R in Rajouri and Poonch, CIF-D in Doda, CIF-V in Anantnag, Pulwama and Badgam, CIF-K in Kupwara, Baramulla and Srinagar, and CIF-U in Udhampur and Banihal. Kashmir Valley, or the Vale of Kashmir, forms just 7 percent of the area of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (for details of area in J&K, see this post). Because of the high density of population in the Valley, as compared to other mountainous regions of the state, and the increased threat of militancy and civil disturbance (as witnessed in 2010) in urban areas of the Valley, an impression is created in the minds of many visitors to the state capital that the complete state is over-militarised and teeming with gun-toting soldiers at every nook and corner. The facts are actually to the contrary.

A recent report in Times of India by Randeep Singh Nandal demolished the second myth…Excerpts from ”State data refutes claims of 1 Lakh killed in Kashmir“:

..They are figures that have been quoted so often that they are widely believed to be true: almost 100,000 dead Kashmiri civilians and 10,000 people who have disappeared in the last two decades. From public meetings in small villages to TV studios, from online pages to newspaper reports, these figure are cited and printed, used to stir emotions and silence voices in Kashmiri society, even presented to visiting ambassadors and printed in petitions to the UN. Except, nobody bothers to explain just how these figures were arrived at.

TOI accessed Jammu & Kashmir government documents to arrive at the truth behind the urban legend.

Here’s what the data says. In the last 21 years, 43,460 people have been killed in the Kashmir insurgency. Of these, 21,323 are militants, 13,226 civilians killed by militants, 3,642 civilians killed by security forces, and 5,369 policemen killed by militants.

…The records also show another slaughter that has gone on ceaselessly since 1990, a slaughter that nobody comments on, nobody laments: of Kashmiris killed by militants since 1990.

These deaths are the ugly truth that Kashmir has learnt to ignore. The civilians killed fall into a black hole that Kashmiri society never discusses, remembers or protests against. …No local newspaper dares print a story accusing militants of killing a civilian; the operative word is “unidentified gunmen”.

These 13,226 Kashmiris just do not exist in the collective psyche. There are no websites to them, no petitions and no organizations to keep alive their memory. Their only contribution has been to cement fear in 70 lakh people, where a clear distinction exists between what is said privately and in company. Where even people who are victims of militant violence are more comfortable talking about security forces and their atrocities.

Next time you hear these words or statements, make sure they are corrected…and while on this, take a moment to remember the innocent victims of terror in the terror in the State..

Related Post: Nail the LIES. Make your voice heard on J&K…

5 Comments »

  • 1. Nanda said:

    I couldn’t imagine the civilians killed by militant terrorists were innocent. They were the neighbors and the family friends of kashmiri pandits and they were the one who drove them away. They supported the militants and they continue to pay the price for that. Even then they themselves don’t talk about it because they think its a sacrifice for the religion. I know people in army who are deputed to the valley and I know the problems they face with the civilians there. I am not convinced that we should sympathize them, just because they died of terrorists’ hands.

  • 2. Vinay said:

    Dear Shantanu,
    This is really very useful information, recently I was reading the book ‘KASHMIR: Paradise Lost’ by Martin A. Sugarman and it painted very horrible situation about Kashmir and Indian govts human right violations…part of it might be true but I think the book only tells one side of the story totally neglecting the other part…your article is certainly helpful in understanding the false propaganda….
    Vinay

  • 3. Alka said:

    This piece on Myths about Kashmir makes a lot of sense and the data provided is quite accurate. There must be a lot of books in the market talking about the human rights violations in Kashmir but to get the true picture of the situation in Kashmir, one needs to read the latest novel on Kahmir….THE K WORD: MAKE PEACE NOT WAR. It is a Pustakmahal publication.

  • 4. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Nanda, Vinay, Alka: Thanks a lot for the kind words…and sorry for the delay in responding..

    Vinay and Alka: I will try and have a look at the books you have mentioned…

  • 5. B Shantanu (author) said:

    More from Pragmatic…Excerpts from The distorted truth:
    Malicious report of a so-called Kashmiri Human Rights group
    “Despite the hype of peace, people of Jammu and Kashmir have witnessed unabated violence, human rights abuses, and denial of civil and political rights, absence of mechanisms of justice, heightened militarization and surveillance. The figures of violent incidents suggest that 2011 as usual has been the year of loss, victimization, mourning and pain for the people.”[Link]

    By providing details of only those cases where security forces were involved, the report creates an impression that every single death in Kashmir in 2011 was at the hands of the security forces.

    This is not the first time such propaganda has been unleashed by “human rights groups” in Kashmir. Such propaganda has been unleashed incessantly over the last two decades to provide canon-fodder to the separatists and their sympathizers in their anti-India tirade. Of course, many foreign journalists (including those based in India) fall easy prey to such propaganda.
    Let’s now look at the facts. Out of the 233 killed persons, 100 were militants while the majority of the balance were either political workers or common civilians gunned down by militants. The report further says that “in 2011… no end to disappearances, custodial killings, rapes and arrests”. But the only rape case of 2011 alleged on the Army was the Kulgam rape case, which also turned out to be a fake allegation. Moreover, when it comes to arrest of minors, a Delhi based Human Rights group had openly accused Syed Ali Shah Geelani of misinterpreting their findings to further his own destructive agenda.
    The report fails to mention the killing of Moulana Showkat Shah which was initially christened by Geelani as an “Indian army planned conspiracy”. Later the LeT had claimed responsibility for the murder of the respected Kashmiri religious leader. 2011 also saw two sisters in Sopore being dragged out and shot by militants because they were supposedly indulging in un-Islamic activities.

    A friend provided this blogger a list of incidents from April to July in 2011 which have been overlooked by the report.

    These, and there are many more unfortunate Kashmiris, for whom no petitions will be signed nor will any protests be staged. Their names will not be found on any list released by a Human Rights group. No celebrated ‘Kashmiri’ writers sitting in foreign lands and writing about conflict in Kashmir will highlight this aspect. No candle-light protests will be organised to lament their death.
    The reason is simple. The Kashmir conflict has created a whole industry, both inside and outside Kashmir, whose livelihood and importance is dependent on keeping the conflict and its memories alive. They are supported in their cause by many ISI-backed NGOs posing as Human Rights groups in Kashmir.
    …the challenge of countering Pakistani and separatist propaganda remains as strong as ever. The government must bring the truth out to counter this malicious narrative.

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