The Shocking Account of the Killing Fields of Kishtwar
In February and March 1990, JKLF (Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front) supported by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), started a systematic ethnic cleansing campaign to kill, terrorise and drive out the entire 400,000- strong community of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley. Over 20,000 houses of Kashmiri Pandits were burnt, some 105 Kashmiri Pandit educational institutions were destroyed and 103 temples razed to the ground. This book traces the genocide of the Pandits living in the Kashmir Valley and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of the Dogra community in Jammu Division with great sensitivity and with due regards to facts.
2013 is the year in which Pak army and terrorists supported by it felt emboldened enough to raise the level and nature of attacks, mainly owing to the softest/lowest ever response by the UPA-II government. While attacks by Pak army/ISI-supported terrorists in Kashmir valley were stepped up substantially in 2013 to include even Srinagar, Kishtwar was focused upon for ethnic cleansing since August 2013. The author reiterated that the ISI, which engineered riots in Doda-Kishtwar then, did so with the specific aim to get rid of the village defence committees (VDCs) and thereby clear the way for ethnic cleansing. According to Bakshi, it was the first phase of a diabolical move by the ISI to further continue its agenda of ethnic cleansing in J&K.
Kishtwar Cauldron is an insightful account of Pakistan’s proxy war in J&K in general and Indian Army’s counterterrorist operations in the grim and forbidding Killing fields of Kishtwar, in particular. The author not only personally led these high risk operations in the field but also oversaw their planning at the apex level. While providing a doctrinal overview for these operations, he also goes on to give a blow by blow account of these campaigns and some of the debates and decisiondilemmas they generated. He highlights one very painful and largely blanked out aspect of these operations – the horrible ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley and how it was blanked out from the media. Subsequently, to stall talks of the Owen-Dixon Plan to partition Kashmir along the Chenab Valley, the ISI deliberately attempted another ethnic cleansing of the Dogras from Kishtwar. Bakshi recounts the grim struggle to protect the population from such genocidal attacks and the strenuous attempts made to prevent their large scale exodus to Himachal Pradesh. It was a grim and very taxing struggle but the Indian Army succeeded at last in deterring such attacks. Questioning the conspiracy of silence that prevented the publicising of genocidal actions of the ISI in J&K, he recommends that like the Serbs, they deserve to be tried for this ethnic cleansing.
A valuable part of this book is Bakshi’s reflections on the lessons learnt and raises a debate on some seminal issues. Should the Indian Army continue to treat Internal Security as a secondary task to be best avoided? The Chinese Army treats it as one of its tasks on par with conventional operations.
He questions the British era principle of minimal force in the context of the rising lethality of such operations and explores the new concept of proportional force. He takes a detailed look at the future and forecasts that the demographic youth bulge could lead to a vast increase in internal armed conflict in India. Maoism is just the trailer of this lethal conflict. The road ahead is grim and full of challenges. By turns racy and analytical, this book is a must read, not only for the military, police and intelligence professionals and analysts but for bureaucrats and politicians as well.