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Corrosive Impact of Army’s Commitment in Kashmir

The army has had an extended deployment in Kashmir. While it has enabled operational experience for its members, there is a danger that the advantages of this can make the army acquire a stake in the disturbed conditions. This makes the army part of the problem in Kashmir. Its deployment is not without a price in regard to the internal good health of the army. 

Media reports have it that the Lucknow-based Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) reinstated Shatru-ghan Singh Chauhan, who had been dismissed from service for an offence a quarter century ago in Kashmir (Majumdar 2017a). In a search operation in Kashmir in 1991, a recovery of gold biscuits had been made. Chauhan alleges that these were appropriated by his seniors, while he was scapegoated for revealing the truth. On his part, the then corps commander, Lt General Mohammad Ahmed Zaki, recalling the episode clarified in an interview (Majumdar 2017b) that he acted in response to a complaint from the Advisor (Home) to the Governor that money had been stolen by someone during a search operation. An inquiry was initiated, based on the findings of which the proceedings against Chauhan were initiated. Zaki goes on to add that, on leaving Kashmir at the end of his tenure, he read news reports of allegations that he had appropriated the gold biscuits. The case testifies to how murky the army’s deployment can get in Kashmir.

More serious and better known instances of transgression have periodically surfaced in Kashmir, with some taking on proportions of causes célèbres, such as Kunan Poshpora. It is debated whether these are—as critics have it—endemic and widespread or—as the army usually depicts them—instances of “aberrations.” While, to military votaries, the military ethic holds sturdy with a majority sticking to the straight and narrow, the military’s critics point to the inability of peer pressure to fully restrict some members from breaking bounds. In the light of over 2,000 unmarked graves having been found in villages across Kashmir early this decade and the estimate by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons that some 10,000 persons are missing, it is clear that, at least for a period of the deployment in Kashmir since 1990, ethically questionable practices were more prevalent than the army would care to admit. Critics attribute the current day angst in Kashmir to such practices. What this suggests is that the army could do with some soul-searching on the impact of its Kashmir commitment on its internal good health.

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Updated On : 27th Feb, 2017

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