Assertions of former Indian Army chief General (retired) VK Singh to a television channel that moola was paid by the Army to certain J&K politicians have led to a debate on social networking websites with Kashmiris arguing that “Singh has said what is already known in Kashmir”.
Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of The Kashmir Times, said that she never doubted army’s “increased” political interference in Kashmir and the “money-laundering bit”.
“The larger question is why in this democratic country, the army is being allowed to embark on the course of a military dictatorship,” Ms Bhasin wrote on her Facebook page.
Najeeb Mubarki, a Kashmir journalist working in Delhi, said the ex-army chief confirmed “what we already knew”. “That these political parties are handmaidens of the military structure, as are many NGOs and harmless sounding sports (cricket tournaments organized by the army) and cultural activities,” Mr Mubarki wrote.
At one level, he said, this is a British-in-India style buying off of locals to further their rule. “At another, this underlines the need for Kashmiris to examine almost all things in their relationships to that military/state structure,” he added.
Gen. Singh had made these controversial statements while reacting to the accusations levelled by a ‘leaked’ official report.
Prepared by a fact-finding “Board of Officers (BoO)” headed by the Director General of Military Operations, Lt-Gen Vinod Bhatia, the ‘leaked’ internal Army report alleged that the Tactical Support Division (TSD), a secret intelligence unit directly under the General during his time as Army Chief, paid Rs 1.19 crore to Ghulam Hassan Mir, J&K agriculture minister, to destabilise the Omar Abdullah-led coalition government.
A senior journalist who chose anonymity said his sources in the administration told him as early as 1993 that Army had proposed posting its officers in every district who would have replaced District Magistrates.
The proposal was never implemented, he said, but the disclosures of General Singh, at least, point out how army has been trying to control the civilian administration in the valley since it arrived in the valley.
In the eye of the storm, General Singh refuted the charges saying this has been going on since the time of independence. “Measures (referring to moola paid to politicians) that are put into place to bring in harmony is not something that VK Singh has invented,” he said.
Gen Singh, whose tenure as the Army chief was cloaked in a controversy over his date of birth, said, “Kashmir is a different issue altogether. A lot of things are done where you do a lot of civic and youth work. For all this, money is needed. A certain amount of money is given for these works. Where is the problem?”
Making a witty remark, Junaid Dada, wrote on his Facebook: “AAM ARMY, not the AAM AADMI, runs the show of democracy in Kashmir…”
Commenting on this post, Huma Dar, while referring to Indian diplomats who claim Kashmiris vote for India through their participation in local assembly elections, says: “All those who refuted the classification “occupation” and quibbled about the farcical elections and panchayats should just hang their heads in shame,” she says.
Army controls Indian policy and governance, even appointment of a sarpanch, says Kashmir Caselaw, a Kashmiri based in London.
“No track 2, no interlocutors, working groups, Kashmir ministers or politicians carry any powers in offering people of Kashmir any political advantages,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Army (armed forces)have stopped camping in Kashmir, they are building in concrete.”