On January 1, 2023, a group of jihadist terrorists barged into the home of a Hindu family in the village of Upper Dangri in the district of Rajouri in Jammu & Kashmir in India, killing four innocent people. These militants first confirmed the religious identity of the victims through their Aadhaar cards – a national identity card. Almost twelve hours after the first attack, the Islamist jihadists set off an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the same village, killing a child and wounding several other members of a Hindu family. In recent years, Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir have mainly targeted non-Muslims, especially laborers who come from other states to work in Kashmir. These recent attacks have drawn attention, especially as India assumed on December 1, 2022, the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
Pakistan-backed jihadi terrorists have been active in the area since the early 1990s. While these attacks take place, Indian security officials have said there is positive change in terrorism in Kashmir, notably the ending of terrorism in three districts of Bandipora, Kupwara, and Ganderbal.
In an article published a day before the January 1, 2023 attack, Kashmiri journalist Shakir Mir assessed the state of jihadi terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir. Mir observed: “Militancy posed a significant challenge in the year 2022 but also witnessed a steep decline with around 93 gunfights taking place in Kashmir valley where 172 militants were killed throughout the year, including 42 foreigners [mainly Pakistanis].
“Out [of] five main militant groups operating in the region, it was The Resistance Front (TRF)… described as a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba group – that lost most (108) of its cadres, followed by Jaish-e-Muhammad (35), Hizbul Mujahideen (22), Al-Badr (4), and Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (3)”.
These terrorist groups are viewed as receiving support from Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which has gone underground in Pakistan due to international pressure, remains aboveground in Jammu & Kashmir. Jaish-e-Muhammad – whose emir Maulana Masood Azhar was freed by India in exchange for the passengers of the Indian Airlines plane hijacked to Kandahar in 1999 – also remains underground in Pakistan under direct patronization of Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) is aboveground in Jammu & Kashmir. The Resistance Front (TRF) is seen as a proxy for LeT.
Days before India took over the presidency of the US Security Council, two Hindi-language Indian newspapers – Dainik Jagran and Jansatta published editorials cautioning that eliminating terrorism from Jammu & Kashmir requires sustained efforts, especially at the international level.
Dainik Jagran in its editorial titled ‘Many Times In The Past Such Situations Were Created When Terrorism In Kashmir Appeared To Be Dying, But It Has Raised Its Head Again’ wrote:
“[Senior police officer] Vijay Kumar’s claim that the activities of local terrorists in three districts of the state, Bandipora, Kupwara, and Ganderbal, have come to an end confirms a fundamental change in the situation. Making these three districts free from militancy is a great achievement because at one point of time these districts and especially Kupwara were known as strongholds of terrorists.
“It is expected that just as these three districts were freed from terrorism, in the same way there will be success in curbing terrorist activities in the rest of the districts. This hope is being raised because soon there is talk of wiping out terrorism from all of Kashmir and in the recent past a large number of local terrorists as well as those from across the border have been killed. Proof of this comes from the statement of… Vijay Kumar that now there are no terrorist leaders of Lashkar[-e-Taiba] and Jaish[-e-Muhammad] left in Kashmir.
“Despite the success in selectively killing terrorists, there is a need to work on a well-planned strategy so that the goal of eliminating them completely can actually be achieved. It should not be overlooked that many times in the past such situations were created when terrorism in Kashmir appeared to be dying, but it has raised its head again.
“Pakistan Will Desist From Its Antics Only When It Is Given A Message That It Will Have To Pay The Price For Spreading Terror And Unrest In Kashmir.
“Though the abrogation of Article 370, which promoted separatism, has broken the back of the hidden supporters of terrorists in the valley, there is a possibility of their re-activation. Keep in mind that a new group of hybrid terrorists has been born here. Similarly, it is a fact that Pakistan is still trying to spread terrorism and separatism in Kashmir.
“[Pakistan] not only tries to send trained terrorists to infiltrate Kashmir, but also sends weapons through drones for local terrorists. It should be understood that Kashmir cannot be freed from terrorism as long as Pakistan remains capable of interfering there. Pakistan must desist from supporting and protecting terrorism, for this there is a need to put fresh pressure on it.
“Pakistan will desist from its antics only when it is given a message that it will have to pay the price for spreading terror and unrest in Kashmir. India should not rest as long as Pakistan maintains terrorist bases on its soil. Recently, the Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] warned the countries that are supporting terrorism at the policy level; its effect must be visible to such countries”.
Hindi newspaper Jansatta in its editorial wrote:
“It is a well-known fact as to what kind of message terrorism has given to India and how much energy has been spent by the country in breaking its widespread network. But this is not the problem of India alone. How terrorism has wreaked havoc in different countries and how much loss of life and property has happened in the world, these are all facts. Barring exceptions, almost all countries seem to agree on raising a big front against terrorism.
“Therefore, if India has seen the opportunity of chairing the United Nations Security Council as a means to confront this important problem, then it is not only a great diplomatic initiative in its favor, rather it also shows the goodwill of all the countries of the world to get relief from this problem, or further to get rid of it.
“Significantly, after coming to this role in the United Nations Security Council, India has made it clear that combating global terrorism and focusing on reforming multilateralism will be our priority. It is not a hidden fact that for the past several decades, from a developing country like India to a capable country like America, terrorism has affected them in some form or the other.
“Whether it be the attack on the World Trade Towers and other institutions in America or the terrorist incidents in India – from Mumbai to Pulwama, etc., the nature of the incidents was completely different. However, there was a clear motive behind all of them that by spreading widespread violence, by blackmailing through terror in the world, by causing loss of life and property, it aims to fulfill an inhuman agenda.
“The Terrorism Of All Small And Big Organizations Like ISIS Has Become Complex In Such Form That No One Country Is The Target And That Is Why All The Countries Of The World Need To Take A Concrete Initiative.
“But other countries, including India, have given a befitting reply to terrorist organizations and the forces that patronize them at their respective levels. And this is the reason that the intensity of terrorism has reduced a bit in the last few years. The terrorists have been forced to hide.
“However, it needs to be understood here that the terrorism of all small and big organizations like ISIS has become complex in such a form that no one country is the target and that is why all the countries of the world need to take a concrete initiative to stand against it. To deal with this, many campaigns have been going on at the international level, but there is a need now that all the countries should unite and with better coordination, such a structure should be set up, which can face terrorism on every front.
“From this point of view, India’s intention to work to combat terrorism is the need of the hour. Many times, sporadic voices raised on very important problems remain suppressed, but organized efforts on the same issue have a far-reaching impact. India has been facing widespread violence from terrorist organizations on its borders and in the interior.
“But several hurdles arise in dealing with terrorist activities operating from bases located across the border. In such a situation, it is now natural to expect that while holding the monthly presidency of the United Nations Security Council, India will be able to make concerted efforts to end terrorism in a more efficient and organized manner”.
It may be mentioned here that, Pakistani state machinery and its military establishment are using Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as the jihadist launch-pad mainly targeting India, while during the recent years several jihadist groups are getting training in PoK and targeting Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other countries in the region. Pakistani ISI is providing patronization to jihadist outfits in generating cash through involving transnational narco-trade by forming alliances with Afghan drug-lords. Unless there is immediate international intervention into the matter, Pakistan shall ultimately turn PoK into the biggest jihadist factory in the world.