For decades our intelligence agencies have said that the Hurriyat Separatists are not relevant, which ironically is being peddled even today by veterans of R&AW in seminars and forums of discussions. Strangely this also includes those who have operated inside Pakistan.

It appears that while India has always had glaring voids of cross-border intelligence, we have largely failed to keep a grip on the ground situation, which has adversely impacted the present scene in the Kashmir Valley, and which may have similar consequences elsewhere too.

Not without reason, late MK Dhar, former Joint Director IB wrote in his book ‘Open Secrets – India’s intelligence unveiled’ published in 2005 that irrespective of which government is in power, the entire opposition is directed how to do down the Opposition. The following actual events highlight how a free-hand to Hurriyat separatists has allowed the present precarious situation in Kashmir Valley with the writ running in Pakistan’s favour. The seriousness of this may be grasped in the backdrop of the Uri terrorist attack; that Pakistani terrorists infiltrating into J&K may have local help readily available,

Naik Ahmad (name changed) left more than a month ago from his duty station to organize the marriage of his kid sister, an apple of his eye. 21 years ago, Ahmad had been enrolled by a team of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regiment at its Centre near the Srinagar airfield, in Oct 1995. Ahmad was eldest in his family. His father was virtually a landless daily wager. Indian Army gave Ahmad an identity, his family a way ahead to construct a home, education to his two brothers and the sister. The sister, who was five years old when he had joined the Army, is a nurse now, having completed her two years course after 10+2. She is now working in the immunization program in the local hospital. With an educationist as a perspective son in law in the family, they aspired to have an educated future generations and a brighter future for the family.

Ahmad had last visited his home in March and the life in his village was normal. However, when he reached home one August morning he found a different village and valley. A calendar is published by the vernacular press on the directions of a separatist leader. All activity in the Valley is governed by the schedule given as per the timings in that calendar. All educational institutions are closed for over two months. Time for shops to open, conduct of social function, allowing vehicles to ply etc is all being controlled by the diktats of separatists. In order to make arrangements for the marriage Ahmad only traveled on foot and at night. He carried one of his sons with him. The child carried his Army identity. He himself carried his Adhar card. Military identity too in case the Army stopped him and the Adhar card to show to goons running the street show. He was heartbroken.

The writ of the state does not run any more. Ahmad and many like him are extremely apprehensive for the future of their children. All they seek is normalcy in their life and the proof of same is that a recruitment rally held in Srinagar by a PMF, recently, was well subscribed. The youth who were throwing stones the previous night at police were standing in the queue to join the same set of organizations.

Ahmad and his friend have lost all hope and faith in the State Government to bring normalcy. They are looking forward to a more proactive role of the central government. The state needs a leader who understands the geography and demographics of the state. He/she ought to possess demonstrated vision and communication skills. It would be ideal if this role can be played by an elected representatives. The time for "on the job training" may cost the people untold more miseries. The time to act is here and now.

Marriage of Ahmad’s sister took place between 2300 hrs to 0500 hrs like all other marriages in the valley now. There are no festivities and everything is done in an atmosphere of fear and apprehension. A whiff of festivities and the home of the family may be burnt. A couple of guests had their vehicles vandalized during the journey. Fortunately, nothing major untoward happened.

On his return journey Ahmad started from his home at 0400 hrs on foot accompanied by one his cousins. Taking a vehicle was too dangerous. On reaching the National Highway he found it deserted. He walked up to the Army transit camp that refused to take him in as no convoys are plying. He fortunately ran into another soldier with whom he had served somewhere in his career. That Military Police NCO took him in and a couple of days later put him in an Ambulance on his way to his duty station. On reaching back at his duty station he has only one prayer. This leave may be only an aberration.

Shiv Kunal Verma, author of ‘1962 – The War That Wasn’t’ writes in his article ‘The Uri Fiasco’, “Talk to any Intelligence agency and the facts are startling… almost all stone-throwing ‘activists’ who have been apprehended are members of the PDP or the NC. So much so, by the time the troops who caught these guys return to their camps, these fellows have been released by the police under political pressure. When your own institutions and systems have thrown up such a subversive political hotch potch that is supposed to govern the state, it is but natural for Pakistan to start eying the low-hanging fruit. Hell no… that’s probably an overstatement… it’s more like apples rotting on the ground waiting to be picked up….

There are two challenges for the Modi government. First, the Centre will have to deal with the situation in the Kashmir Valley, where the PDP is aligned with the HuM. Second, deal with the deliberate denigration of military soldiers which perhaps requires greater effort by the Prime Minister.