18 January 2021 01:06 AM



Indian Militarism & Kashmir: A Response to Lt. General Vijay Oberoi


NEW DELHI: Kashmir is an extremely complex place. Increasingly, former military men like the current author Lt. Gen. Vijay Oberoi, a former Vice Chief of Army Staff, have sweepingly referred to the government’s Kashmir policy, and called as in this case to “Stop Pussyfooting in Kashmir.”

As is not unusual, Jawaharlal Nehru is accused of having bungled in accepting the plebiscite resolution. But it was ultimately not accepted by the Nehru government on the grounds that the Pakistani irregulars and troops had intervened in Kashmir. The plebiscite resolution was never passed by the United Nations. As for Article 370, which allotted only Defence, Foreign Affairs, Currency and Communications to the Union of India, it was never implemented. Nehru broke his promise to Sheikh Abdullah, and Article 370 is a shadow of itself; (See “Article 370,” by A.G. Noorani, OUP, 2011). So Nehru’s “bungling” disempowered, not empowered Kashmir.

Another sweeping assertion by Lt. Gen. Oberoi: “both the central and state governments have been on an appeasement spree…” Most Indian and foreign observers would be shocked by this claim. Are the use of pellet (shot) guns which have blinded many children in Kashmir, appeasement? Are the retired Generals aware that the Israeli Defence Forces withdrew such weapons during the intifada and never used them again?

What about the role of the Army? Under which section of The Army Act, 1950 has the taking of “human shields” been allowed? Major Leetum Gogoi abducted a Kashmiri voter in the Srinagar by-poll on 9 April, and the voter Farooq Ahmed Dar, a shawl weaver, was tied to a jeep bonnet and driven 28 kilometers! Major Gogoi spoke publicly to the media while the Court of Inquiry was still on. Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat commended Major Gogoi even before the Court of Inquiry was over. Incidentally this incident became widely known only in the third week of May. Who suppressed this information? Is this appeasement? Under the Rome Statute 2000, to which India is a party, the use of “human shields” is an international crime.

Finally after the event, General Rawat, in an interview to the Press Trust of India on May 28 , which was reported nation wide opined that he wished that the stone pelters would take to arms, so that he (the Army) could retaliate. He went on to say that the people must fear the Army, which was defending them. No, Lt. Gen. Oberoi there is no appeasement, but a shocking amount of insubordination. This will further alienate the Kashmiris, and has the potential to destabilise the State further.

Current article by Lt General oberoi

(Kamal Mitra Chenoy is a senior Professor in Jawaharlal Nehru University)

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