On visit to J&K, defence minister Manohar Parrikar talked about "pro-active steps" to meet any threat to the country. And one such step was the elimination of the terrorists by the terrorists, the latter one impliedly supported by the government – the strategy of "Kante se Kanta Nikalna". The statement has generated political furore in the state with National Conference and Congress rubbishing Parrikar for, in effect, advocating the creation of the counter-terrorist groups in a militancy-ridden area. The former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has accused PDP-BJP coalition of reviving and empowering the Ikhwanis in the state. Similarly, Congress has termed the remark as an insult to the police and the military whose job it is to fight the militancy.
The defence minister's statement has also generated shock in Valley where people have horrific memories of the Ikhwan time. The advent in 1993 of Kuka Parray, the first major pro-India insurgent leader, dramatically altered the political scene in Valley. It increased the level of violence by several fold, triggering a massive internal displacement of people from rural to urban areas, with Srinagar being the preferential destination.
The horror played out in abandon for five years until Kargil war in 1998 when the things again returned to square one, with militants regaining the dominance. If the experiment was expected to crush the militancy, it didn't achieve the end. It often blurred the lines between militants, counter-insurgents and the security personnel, and the consequent chaos and the utter breakdown of the law and order played out on the streets of Kashmir.
On the contrary, Ikhwan only reinforced the anger against the state and forced more people to take to extreme means to achieve their goal. Hundreds of innocent people lost their lives in the process and thousands of others suffered. Advocating revival of such groups by as high a state functionary as the defence minister therefore generates strong emotions in the state. And this becomes a matter of serious concern for the people. At a time when Kashmir has regained a measure of normalcy, such talk only strikes a discordant note and betrays a misplaced resolve to return to policies which have wrought havoc in the past. New Delhi will need to evolve its thinking on Kashmir and take measures which contribute to the real and sustainable peace in the state.