The government’s decision on Article 370 of the Constitution that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the bifurcation of the border state into two union territories has been hailed by military experts as a “bold and logical” move towards national integration.
On a day the government put to rest days of frenzied speculation about what was in store for J&K, the experts, however, warned against the decision resulting in heightened militant activity backed by Pakistan and violent protests in Kashmir.
Any step that leads to greater integration of J&K with the rest of the country should be welcomed, said former Northern Army commander, Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd). “Kashmir could see a spike in protests and disturbances. The challenge for the Centre will be to deal with the situation in a mature and measured manner. Also, Pakistan will do its best to fish in troubled waters, so we have to stay prepared,” said Hooda, who oversaw the 2016 surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir following the Uri terror attack.
He stressed that it was imperative for the government to focus on educating the Kashmiri population on how they stand to benefit from the new move.
Monday’s landmark decisions prove India has a decisive and nationalistic leadership, said former army chief, General JJ Singh (retd).
Other experts echoed Hooda’s views on Kashmir slipping into a fresh cycle of violence. Pakistan is likely to carry out some sensational attacks in J&K to foment trouble and infiltration attempts from across the Line of Control are likely to increase in the coming days, said former Northern Army commander, Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd).
“The removal of Article 370 will definitely change the attitude of some Kashmiri people who have always believed that J&K is not a part of India. While entering the state from Lakhanpur border, some Kashmiris go to the extent of saying that ‘hum abhi vapas apne watan ja rahe hain (we are returning to our country),’” Jaswal said.
The experts said the government would have certainly factored in the likely scenarios that could unfold in Kashmir following the new developments.
Former army vice chief, Lieutenant General AS Lamba (retd), said, “When you take a big decision [on Article 370], it will be a challenge to address the environment for which the government is determined and the security forces fully prepared.”
Dubbing it a logical and inevitable step, he said the government had extended its support to stabilise Kashmir’s environment that has been vitiated by self-styled separatists backed by Pakistan. There could have been no better news for the people of Ladakh and the region will benefit greatly from the development standpoint as a UT, the experts said. “Frankly, Ladakh has been ignored a lot due to the J&K problem. Making it a UT will bring in a new era of development,” Hooda said.
Echoing his views, Jaswal added that development in Ladakh would be accelerated as a result of direct funding from the Centre.