The American strategy in a much reformed form is at play and the amphitheatre is Kashmir.
“There is a need to address the ideology which was working as the operating software to the entire campaign of terrorism. Those providing logistic, financial, ideological support to terrorism as an ecosystem were much more dangerous,” R R Swain Special DG, CID, who is also Director State Investigation Agency (SIA) of Jammu and Kashmir said in an address on the first Raising Day of the anti-terror body in November.
“This time we have recorded low terrorism in J&K. However, some people are more dangerous than the man holding the gun as they provide logistic, financial, and ideological support to terrorism as an ecosystem which is much more dangerous. We need to address the ideology which is working as the operating software for the entire campaign of terrorism. It is a hard task but not impossible,” Swain said, adding that the proposal of highlighting and underlining the good work of SIA is an initiative to remind ourselves about our responsibilities and reach to the wider family of J&K Police to boost the morale and energy of the organisation.”
In J&K seizing weapons used by terrorists has been the fundamental pillar of law enforcement agencies’ strategy for combating terrorism and separatism.
The idea was that without weapons, there was not much that terrorists could do to challenge the State.
However, the American strategy was totally different and they always focused on the money that fuelled terrorist activity.
According to the Americans, strangulating the supply of funds asphyxiates the activity of terror organisations.
More than kinetic operations, there have been operations by the SIA to target the conflict entrepreneurs who have prospered and enriched themselves on the blood of the people of the Jammu and Kashmir.
For the last three decades, the people of J&K have seen separatist and their sympathizers thriving. Their kith and kin are studying abroad, even earning their doctorates on simple letters issued by the separatists. The sons of poor used to get provoked so that they pelted stones, close business establishments, and schools and instill fear among the common masses.
Over the last two years since it was set up, the SIA has seized 124 properties used for funding terror activities in J&K, and most of these properties belonged to the banned Jamaat-e-Islami.
The administration has said that attaching these properties is in consonance with the policy of “zero tolerance towards the anti-State activities”.
Since the SIA was set up in 2021, state agencies have attached 124 immoveable assets that were allegedly used to fund terror activities. While these assets were attached at 86 different locations across J&K, most of them are in south Kashmir.
During investigation in terrorism-related cases, these properties have been established prima facie to be either proceeds of terrorism, or used in activities that are aimed at furtherance of terrorism and secessionism.
Of the 124 seized assets, 77 belong to Jamaat-e-Islami, which was banned by the Union Home Ministry in 2019, immediately after the Balakot strikes.
The assets were seized after invoking provisions of anti-terror laws.
The SIA was formed by the government as a specialised nodal agency for coordinating with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and “other central agencies.”
Since its inception, the SIA has focused its investigation on Jamaat, its cadres, and assets, and seized many of these.
Jammu and Kashmir School Education Department in June last year directed cessation of academic activities in Falah-e-Aam Trust-affiliated schools and asked the Chief Education Officers (CEOs) of various districts to seal the institutions within 15 days in consultation with the district administration.
In March 2019, the central government had banned Jamaat for a period of five years citing reasons that the socio-political and religious organisation was in close touch with terror outfits.
FAT offices across J&K were raided by SIA after search warrants were issued by the Court of Special Judge, designated under NIA (TADA/POTA), Srinagar.
FAT, in the past, had been proscribed by the government and subsequent to which several litigations were lodged by the Jamaat management, seeking immunity against legal action.
"During the quasi-judicial proceedings ban on the Jamaat, evidence had come on record that one of the major methods of propagating its secessionist agenda had been to maintain control over a parallel school system,” the anti-terror body said during the process of investigation against the Jamaat.
Besides, creating such properties by encroaching government or community land, FAT, as per the reports, has used its connections with Hizbul Mujahideen terror group to regularise such encroachments.
The SIA had said that the public interest aspect of the investigation lies in the fact that in several stages of the 30-year-old secessionist and terrorist campaign, Hizbul Mujahideen had burnt down several government schools across the length and breadth of Kashmir.
"The correlation between destroying government facilities on one hand and creating parallel private facilities where co-curricular and extracurricular programmes can be leveraged to influence young minds that are inherently in support of a long-term secessionist campaign and not always necessarily by picking up arms is also a matter of investigation," the investigating agency said.
The anti-terror arm has made all out efforts to dismantle the OGW network, besides cracking MBBS seat scandal run by the Pakistani-backed separatist elements.
The agency has put in tremendous efforts to counter narco-terrorism. However, a lot more needs to be done to curb nacro-terrorism in J&K.
The nexus of drug trafficking and terrorism would exist as long as both prevail.
The terror organisations often finance themselves through the drug trade and use it to further terrorism.
The act disrupts efforts to combat the drug trade and terrorism.
Narco-terrorism has been a significant concern in J&K, which has seen a steep rise in drug trafficking in the recent years, with illegal drugs, including heroin and marijuana, being grown and produced in neighbouring countries and then smuggled here.
The investigating agencies have reported that drug money was being used to fund separatist and terror groups, which engage themselves in acts of terrorism and violence in J&K.
As a result, narco-terrorism has become a significant security threat, and has thus been contributing to the ongoing terror and violent activities.
Recently, the SIA filed chargesheet against three operatives of a narco terror module in the court of additional sessions judge designated under the NIA Act, Srinagar. Three members of a narco terror module identified as Rubeena Nazir, Ishfaq Ahmad Mir, and Mudasir Ahmad Poswal were chargesheeted by SIA Kashmir in case FIR No 19 of 2022 under Sections 8-A/27-B and 29 of the NDPA Act, 13, 18, 39, and 40 of the UA(P) Act read with Sections 121 and 121-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of Police Station SIA Kashmir.
The trio was found to be involved in trafficking of drugs and small arms and subsequently diverting the narco proceeds to addict youth and revitalise terror activities J&K.
Hopefully, all this could now be ending.
The SIA raids and subsequent investigations have had a salutary effect, but a lot more needs to be done to shut down the funding networks and penalise and reduce to penury of the conflict entrepreneurs.
The gloves are coming off and the authorities would do more to dismantle the terror industry that has been flourishing for decades in J&K.
This more than anything else would help in restoring total normalcy in J&K that has been hit by Pakistan-sponsored terrorism since the last over three decades.
(Author is senior staffer at Greater Kashmir)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.