India: LeT Blamed for Kashmir Unrest

Amin Masoodi
Srinagar, India
2017-01-09
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170109-IN-kashmir-1000.jpg Indian soldiers search for militants near the General Engineering Reserve Force camp in Akhnoor, near the Line of Control, after three civilian workers were killed, Jan. 9, 2017.
AFP

Security analysts on Monday backed allegations by India’s top counter terror agency that Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) incited unrest in Indian Kashmir last year.

The months-long spate of violence that followed the killing of a top separatist leader on July 8 was orchestrated by LeT, The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said last week. On Friday the agency charged Bahadur Ali, a 21-year-old suspected LeT operative who has been in custody since late July, under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act.

Between July and November, some 100 people were killed and more than 10,000 injured in almost daily street clashes between anti-India protesters and security forces in the disputed Himalayan region. Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by India and Pakistan, and has been in the midst of a separatist insurgency that has killed more than 70,000 people since the late 1980s.

“The NIA’s charge sheet against Ali has shed light on some very important facts about LeT’s role in inciting the recent violence in Kashmir. Soon after the Indian security forces killed Burhan Wani [commander of separatist factions Hizbul Mujahideen], LeT pushed its operatives into India as over-ground workers to instigate people to fight Indian forces,” retired Maj. Gen. G.D. Bakshi, a New Delhi-based security analyst, told BenarNews.

Bakshi denied claims by Kashmiri separatists that the latest unrest was spontaneous, saying, “If that was the case, the violence would not have stopped soon after Indian security forces arrested dozens of people who were provoking the youths to indulge in violent street protests.”

Militant attack kills 3

Meanwhile, three civilians were killed Monday when suspected militants attacked the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) installation in Akhnoor near the Line of Control – a de facto border dividing the region between India and Pakistan.

Although no group claimed responsibility or had been blamed for the pre-dawn attack as of late Monday, the assault came barely 40 days after suspected LeT operatives killed seven Indian soldiers in a similar ambush at the army headquarters in Nagrota.

The unidentified attackers, who fled after opening fire in the GREF compound, likely infiltrated from across the border, according to unidentified sources quoted by the Press Trust of India.

“The entire area has been cordoned off and a search operation is under way,” said Col. Manish Mehta, spokesman for the Indian Army.

‘Well-planned conspiracy’

Condemning Monday’s attack, Jammu and Kashmir state Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti blamed Pakistan and separatists for the recent violence in the region, and reiterated that the unrest was a “well-planned conspiracy.”

Ajai Sahni, executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute of Conflict Management, agreed.

“No unrest in the world can be spontaneous and the Kashmir unrest is no exception. There is no doubt that the LeT has a hand in inciting the recent violence. I just hope the NIA has some solid evidence to back its claim,” Sahni told BenarNews.

In its charge sheet, the NIA said LeT operatives, with backing from Pakistani forces, paid people 500 rupees (U.S. $8) each to take to the streets for anti-India protests.

Shabir Shah, a separatist leader, refuted this claim.

“A sea of people demonstrated against India’s oppressive rule demanding freedom. No one will take bullets on their chest for a meager 500 rupees, as claimed by Indian agencies,” Shah told BenarNews.

“By blaming militant groups like the LeT for the recent unrest, India is attempting to malign the just and peaceful freedom movement in Kashmir. And regardless of the Indian government’s attitude toward this movement, Kashmiris will continue to fight until the region is liberated from India,” he said.

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