Legend has it that Isaac Newton formulated his gravitational theory in 1666 sitting in his garden after watching an apple fall and asking himself why the apple fell straight down, rather than sideways or even upward. India has its own share of Newtons; latest example being the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh declaring on a TV show that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) will fall into our lap by itself.

His logic was that the people of POK themselves are raising the demand to merge with India. He probably forgets that the Pakistan army, which has always ruled the country, is the sixth largest army globally with 6,45,000 active personnel and that  China’s PLA is entrenched in this region. Isn’t PLA presence making our polity gutless to stoke the fires in POK?

The ‘surgical strike’ and Balakot were political compulsions having suffered heavily at the hands of Pakistan at Uri and Pulwama. But why is Rajnath scared of letting even our Special Forces strike inside Pakistan immediately after a terror strike in J&K, for which they are fully capable?  

Asked about Pakistan’s PM’s recent remarks about Kashmir, Rajnath said, “Can they ever take Kashmir?….India has a character of never attacking any country in the world…. But POK was ours, POK is ours, and I am confident that POK will itself merge with India.” Is this reinforcing lack of political guts to “take” POK? Will POK fall into our Newton’s lap automatically?    

To a question about any threat from China now, Rajnath said, “We will tackle if any threat arises, what’s there in it?” What he implied was that as of now there is NO threat from China, which is not surprising considering his patent song – not even an inch of territory lost to China in eastern Ladakh, much to the amusement of Beijing. Inch-wise Rajnath probably thinks he is right because loss of territorial control in eastern Ladakh is over 4,000 sq km.

At the Times Now Summit held in New Delhi, Army Chief General Manoj Pandey said on March 27 that coordination in which the security forces are working is extremely important and the key in terms of infiltration. He also said that infiltration attempts are continuing in the Kashmir Valley as well as south of the Pir Panjal  region. As to the security situation post abrogation of Article 370, Pandey said Army formations are deployed in J&K both in the hinterland as well as along the Line of Control (LoC).

The South Asia Terrorism Portal shows that since 2015 there were 660 incidents of killings in J&K (135 in 2019, 145 in 2020, 153 in 2021, 151 in 2022, 72 in 2023 and 4 in 2024), 869 terrorists/insurgents killed (163 in 2019, 232 in 2020, 193 in 2021, 193 in 2022, 87 in 2023 and 1 in 2024), 248 security forces killed (78 in 2019, 56 in 2020, 45 in 2021, 30 in 2022, 33 in 2023 and 6 in 2024) and 156 civilians killed (41 in 2019, 33 in 2020, 36 in 2021, 30 in 2022, 12 in 2023 and 4 in 2024),   

Our continuing political discourse is that normalcy has been restored in J&K. This is despite the fact that J&K is a border state; Pakistan’s terror industry produces thousands of terrorists annually, porosity of the border cannot be sealed 100 percent, one-two major terror attacks are enough to blow the myth of normalcy and offence is the best form of defence, for which Rajnath & Co have no stomach.

If normalcy is restored in J&K, why are elections not being held  there with the rest of the country? The reason is pretty evident. Induction of thousands of additional central armed police forces (CAPF) in J&K has contributed to lowering the incidents, although not eliminated altogether. To hold elections in J&K, many times more security forces are obviously planned to be inducted. The Supreme Court has directed to conduct the assembly polls in J&K before September.

Earlier, Amit Shah had said that AFSPA has been removed in 70 percent of the northeast even though it is still in force in J&K. He will naturally not talk about the mess created in Manipur by revoking AFSPA in Imphal Valley and the ethnic cleansing experiment. The prime minister has also avoided making any mention of Manipur whatsoever. Shah asked the youth of J&K to stay away from the conspiracies of Pakistan but Pakistan-affiliated terrorist organizations in J&K are yet to be eliminated.

Amit Shah, who once thumped the table in Parliament saying we will get Aksai Chin back, doesn’t’ say so any more even as Rajnath says POK will fall in our lap automatically like Newton’s apple. But it is noticeable that Amit Shah, who was holding meetings and talking about the return of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) to J&K in recent years, has stopped talking about it after few targeted killings of Hindus and KPs in J&K.   

Shah also said, “Today, not a single martyr’s family is left without a job”; the Modi government is boosting the morale of the security forces by giving jobs to the family members of the martyrs. But can he explain why family members of Armed Forces are not similarly assured jobs? Rajnath, being talked about functioning like a post office, bows to the collective disdain against Army soldiers rather than ensuring this rule applies to martyrs of Armed Forces also.

Bravest of the Brave Paratrooper Sanjog Chhetri of 9 Para (Special Forces) is the only native from Sikkim who made the supreme sacrifice in Operation ‘Sarp Vinash’ two decades back and was awarded Ashok Chakra. Veterans of Sikkim have been unsuccessfully trying to get his bust installed in Gangtok. Eminent personalities who were not born in Sikkim have been conferred with ‘Sikkim Ratna but Sikkim’s own Sanjog Chettri, conferred the highest peace time gallantry award, Ashok Chakra, is denied  recognition by the Sikkim Government in the form of a statue.

Finally, withdrawal of AFSPA from J&K would be playing into the hands of Pakistan. Subramanian Swamy wrote some time back that some bureaucrats of the defence ministry have been honey-trapped by the ISI. Are bureaucrats of the home ministry also under ISI blackmail? Pakistan’s economic woes do not mean it will give up terrorism. On the contrary, a spurt is more likely. Besides, India is in the crosshairs of international terrorist organizations. The increasing influence of TTP in Pakistan will eventually spill into India and the interest of the US-led West lies in destabilizing India.

The “faithful” media has been describing additional CAPF units inducted into J&K at par with US Marines. But revoking AFSPA from the hinterland in J&K would seriously degrade the counter-infiltration grid. This should not be done unless the aim is to keep the insurgency going, on which politics thrives.   

The author is an Indian Army veteran. Views expressed are personal.

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