A photo from Oct 2, 2021, showing Indian security personnel near a site where a man was shot dead by unknown gunmen in downtown Srinagar. (PHOTO: AFP)
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern about the Taliban to world leaders this week, the Kashmiri military attacked militants who he said could be encouraged by the Islamist victory in Afghanistan. Rebel fire against civilians and police in Kashmir, attacks by security forces on terrorist hideouts, and insurgent infiltrations through the Indo-Pakistan ceasefire line have increased in the majority region.
In the Himalayan region, divided between India and Pakistan since independence in 1947, around 40 people were killed in shootings and clashes over the next two months.
Terrorists have targeted Hindus and Sikhs, while soldiers and rebels have been killed in shootings near the ceasefire.
India has not openly blamed the Taliban takeover for the increase in violence, but has stepped up its patrols near Pakistani Kashmir and expanded a number of army camps, local residents and officials said on condition of anonymity.
Modi told a G20 summit in Rome earlier this week that international efforts are needed to ensure Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for "radicalization and terrorism".
He also conveyed India's concerns to US President Joe Biden.
In September, he told the United Nations General Assembly that no country should use Afghanistan “as a tool for its own selfish interests"a comment that relates widely to neighboring Pakistan, which was the mainstay of the Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001.
This time Islamabad did not recognize the new Taliban government.
But New Delhi accuses its big rival in Islamabad of instigating the Pakistan-based militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, who are blamed for numerous attacks in Kashmir.
India supported the Soviet puppet government in Kabul, which was overthrown by the Mujahideen troops in 1992.
In 2001 he supported US-led forces in the overthrow of the Taliban. And he's a major public financier who was crushed by veteran Islamists in August.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Afghan militants fought alongside Kashmiri fighters, around 20 Afghan “guest mujahideen” were killed and 10 arrested, according to one Kashmiri veteran.
India fears that arms and fighters will return to the region for which it waged two wars against Pakistan.
"What we can say and learn from the past is that when the previous Taliban regime was in power, that time definitely we had foreign terrorists of Afghan origin in Jammu and Kashmir," said India's military chief of staff General M.M. Naravane.
"So there are reasons to believe that the same thing might happen once again."
Protests in Kashmir have been virtually impossible due to restrictions imposed by Delhi since the region's semi-autonomous status was lifted in 2019.
But some in Kashmir have tacitly hailed the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan as a victory they too could one day win.
"If they can defeat the world's largest military power, we see a possibility that we too can win our freedom," one businessman in the main Kashmir city of Srinagar told AFP, declining to be named.
A former Kashmiri activist who trained in Afghanistan in the 1990s and fought alongside the Afghan Mujahedin in Kashmir, added: “The Taliban victory has already supplied oxygen to our movement”.
Given India's security measures against Kashmir, Naravane and other military leaders are confident Delhi can handle any wave.
But on condition of anonymity, a senior security official in Kashmir said “there is some panic" at the security installations.
Michael Kugelman, a South Asian specialist at the Wilson Center in Washington, said the new Afghan leadership could lead to "stepped up unrest" in Kashmir.
Taliban officials have said they are keen to maintain trade and other ties with India, which means some sort of contact must be maintained.
"The Taliban itself won't agitate for unrest in Kashmir, but those it is aligned with likely will do so," he said.
Mosharraf Zaidi, columnist and security analyst in Pakistan, said he saw no reason why the Taliban "deliberately agitate the Indian authorities".
Your victory, he believes, is more important than the signal it sends "young Kashmiri boys and girls watching the images from Afghanistan".
Sources:- The Economic Times
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