I think the people of India, the Govt. of India, and the Indian army must now be told the truth : a full blown guerilla war, still in its nascent stage , is fast developing in Kashmir, and we are being misled by our jingoistic media having anchors whom I call Don Quixote, Lord Haw Haw, and Dr. Goebbels. The truth is that most of the Kashmiri youth have been thoroughly alienated, and are intensely hostile to India.
A guerilla war, to be succesful, must have popular support. ” The people are the sea, and we are the fish who swim in them ” said a famous Red Army leader in the Chinese revolutionary war. Without popular support, a guerilla war cannot be long sustained, as Che Guevara realized too late in Bolivia.
But there is definitely popular support of the militants in Kashmir. We canot hide this truth, like ostriches. It is true that not all Kashmiri youth are trained and armed militants ( at present only a very small number are ). But the sympathies of most of the Kashmiri youth are with the militants, and they will therefore supply information, sanctuary, food, etc to them. The large crowd of lacs of people in Burhan Wani’s funeral has demonstrated this.
To say that all the militants have come across the border is again not correct. A large section of them , like Burhan Wani, are local people, though they are getting weapons from China and Pakistan. The Kashmiri guerilla war, though still in its nascent stage, is bound to develop rapidly in the days to come, and I may explain why. I have many relatives who were in the Indian army, and who were posted in Kashmir or in the North East where there was militancy. They explained to me the psychology of our army soldiers.
Suppose a patrol of 10 or 20 of our soldiers is going in some area in Kashmir, and is fired upon by some militants. If in this firing 2 or 3 of our soldiers are killed, the rest of them tend to go crazy, seeking revenge for their fallen comrades. They may then enter a neighbouring village, thinking it harboured these militants ( and may indeed have ), and shoot at innocent civilians, despite all instructions to the contrary from higher authorities.. Sometimes even their officers cannot control them.
Also, a soldier who has stayed in militancy affected areas for long periods, as many Indian soldiers have to do, is often no longer psychologically normal, expecting death at any moment. Hence he sometimes tends to do crazy things, like firing at civilians. The American experience in Vietnam testifies to this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMMd2mrJnVM
All this generates further hatred. The near and dear ones of an innocent civilian who is killed, often become militants themselves, to seek revenge. Thus the guerilla war expands, and guerillas increase in numbers. They only lack arms, but these are supplied by China and Pakistan. Even if we can prevent Pakistan from doing so, we cannot prevent China, as it is a super power, and is bent on destabilizing India and capture markets for its industries. No amount of ‘surgical’ strikes will have significant effect. The Americans also tried many such ‘ surgical’ strikes in Vietnam, but to no avail.
An army can fight another army, it cannot fight the masses. A tiger can attack a large prey, it cannot attack a swarm of mosquitoes. We may keep boasting of our ‘surgical strike’, but that solves no problem. There will repeated guerilla type attacks on our armed forces in Kashmir, using hit and run tactics, the most recent one being on the Baramulla army camp.
The guerilla has the advantage of surprise. He decides the time, place and duration of the attack. And if he wins the support of the masses he becomes almost invincible, as was demonstrated to the French and Americans in Vietnam I am sorry to paint this grim picture of the situation in Kashmir, but the truth must be told to all Indians.
लेखक जस्टिस मार्कंडेय काटजू देश के जाने माने जज रहे हैं और अपने बेबाक लेखन व बोल के लिए चर्चित हैं.