Archives

SOURCE: SUNDAY GUARDIAN LIVE

More than 2,20,000 tourists visited Kashmir in the two months of October and November 2021, which was the highest number of people visiting the place, also known as “heaven on earth”, in the last 7 years.
Similarly, an impressive 3.65 lakh pilgrims took part in the 24-day Amarnath Yatra this year, the highest in the last 5 years. In the entire 2021, around 6.6 lakh tourists had visited Kashmir. The figure for January-June 2022 stands at an impressive 1.05 crore tourists.

These numbers are likely to cross 1.50 crore, as many tourists, to witness the snowfall and celebrate the new year, will visit Kashmir in large numbers in the last months of the year. The record of maximum pilgrims visiting the Amarnath Yatra is 6,34,000 which was achieved in 2011. In the same year, 1.31 crore domestic and international tourists visited the state.

The increasing “normalization” in Kashmir in 2011, as the confidence of the Amarnath yatris and tourists showed, is described as the trigger that led to people manning the Kashmir desk at the Pakistan intelligence agency, ISI headquarters in Aabpara, Islamabad, to become hyper active and start pushing more money, arms and terrorists to India to disrupt this “normalcy”.

As a result, the state witnessed a new wave of terrorism that started in 2012. The armed terror attacks were backed by unprecedented 22 general strikes that were called by the political fronts of the terror groups which threw Kashmir into a state of disarray. Since then, things have started showing a semblance of improvement for the last few years after the top political offices asked the armed forces to increase the anti-terror campaigns and disrupt the money flow that the political groups were receiving from across the border. This has made it hard for the terror groups to operate as freely as they used to earlier.

However, this relatively peaceful atmosphere has now come under threat of being vitiated. As per the “guidebook” prepared for the cadre of “The Resistance Front” (TRF)—which portraits itself as a group composed of locals, but according to officials, in reality, is another name of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT)—and accessed by The Sunday Guardian, the group has been asked to target tourists, non-locals, including movie directors who shoot documentaries in the valley, Kashmiri pandits and journalists who write about these terror groups. As per the “guidebook”, the action against these journalists should not be just limited to Kashmir, but should be carried out in other parts of the country.

While the said “guidebook” is undated, since it mentions targeting “non-locals” who are going to be given voting power, it, in all likelihood, was prepared very recently. The document states that every non-local who can “become a potential threat” to the “demographic change” should be targeted on priority.
The tourists have been designated as targets as they show “Kashmir as a normal state having either friendly mercenary forces around or no such mercenary forces presence” (referring to the Indian army).
Even the locals who help the documentary makers are on the radar of the Lashkar aka TRF cadre. The document has also called for the burning and destroying of installations of the Kashmiri pandits to force them to leave the state. The document has put special focus on its cadre to carry out targeted attacks against people who are working for “India’s interest” and residing outside Kashmir in other parts of the country.

As revealed first by The Sunday Guardian in its April 2020 edition, (Kashmir’s Resistance Front is Lashkar with a new name), the name of TRF had come into prominence for the first time after, in a hand-to-hand combat that took place on 5 April in the Keran sector in North Kashmir’s Kupwara, the elite 4 Para unit of the Indian Army lost five of its men. The team, which was also a part of the 2016 surgical strike team, killed five of the terrorists who had sneaked into India on the intervening night of 1-2 April. Later, TRF released a propaganda video, which also included a statement by one of the five terrorists, Sajjad Ahmed, a resident of Shopian, on multiple social media platforms.

Later, it emerged that to escape international scrutiny and responsibility, the ISI had executed this idea of rebranding the Lashkar terrorists as cadre of TRF and build a narrative that local Kashmiri youths and not Pakistani terrorists were carrying out the attack in Kashmir.