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We had a very special guest; Shri SM Sahai IPS (Retd). He is a Retd IPS Officer 1987 batch of the J&K AGMUT cadre. He has also served as an Additional Secretary of, the Internal Affairs Division in the National Security Council Secretariat under the Prime Minister’s Office (2016-2023).
SM Sahai IPS (Retd) shared his experience and knowledge that he gained throughout his professional life. He dwelled upon topics like the truth about The Kashmir Files and the unrealistic portrayal of facts, the key difference between a terrorist and an insurgent, Article 370, and the present-day scenario of Kashmir. It was an enlightening conversation with an amazing person. This would be a very knowledgeable episode for those who wish to learn more about India and the Police Force. I hope you enjoy this, feel free to share your opinions in the comments!
If you enjoyed the conversation with any of the people from the forces, then you will love this one. It is about Kashmir.
“In a surgency situation, the local police are part of society, so you can’t expect the police officer not to be affected by the situation. In Punjab, the Khalistan movement started, and the influence of Khalistan sentiment became strong. Things do influence. Getting a police force to set an agenda during such a time is very important.”
“When you have grievances in a society, self-seeking leadership might exploit them. And when things like this happen, there needs to be a force to put out the police from there and start fighting the problem. First, you need to appeal to the mind. It is necessary to have the force’s loyalty, and they need to know why they are fighting because they are putting life on the line.”
Working In J&K
“I started working in J&K in 1988. It was a peaceful place, and it was all about tourism. A whole situation arose at the end of 1989 when the explosion occurred, the shooting of policemen, and the burning of houses. It was quite challenging, and no one knew what to do.”
“Indication was there. But there was political disbelief. In 1987, the two opposition political parties combined, and that created a vacuum. For democracy to work, there needs to be opposition. There was an elected government, but the actual acceptance of that mandate was questionable. And when there is a gap, such things happen.”
Truth About Kashmir Files
“Kashmir Files was not an accurate depiction of what happened. What happened with the Kashmiri pandit is a sordid story, but the vilification of Kashmir Muslims is not justified in Kashmir files.”
“I was the subdivisional police officer in Srinagar town. I was sitting in front of a women’s college when an explosion took place, and from the noise, I know it happened under my jurisdiction. I drove there and it was an abandoned road. There was a piece of pulsating meat in the middle of the road. There were a few shreds of flesh and blood shattered across the street, and I saw one thigh of a human lying in the gutter and one arm in the other. A crow was trying to pick up one hand but couldn’t, so it dropped. I saw it, and I knew who that person was. He was a BSF Kashmiri Muslim Jawan. A terrorist group captured him, and after tying a bomb on him, they detonated it in the middle of the street. And we didn’t know what to do or how to pick up the body. I picked it up and put the body in the sack. His father came, and he was completely stoic, with no emotions on his face. He said to keep the sack in the car, and he left. The point I want to make here is that even Muslims were harmed. What happened with Kashmiri Pandits was horrific. The terrorists killed a large number of Muslims and pandits.”
“The first movement was started by Sheikh Abdullah, Kashmir’s first MSC. That somewhere sparked it. If you study Kashmir’s history, you will see that Yusuf Shah Chuck was betrayed by Akbar, who called him and exiled him. Then came the Mughals, who were followed by the Pathans, Sikhs, and Dogras. From that point, until they became a part of India, Kashmiris were denied the opportunity to govern themselves. So they were kind of suppressed.”
“The movie showed all the Muslims being bad. What happened to the Hindus was horrible. I have seen some of it myself. The positive is that this issue needed to come into the limelight. The Kashmiri pandits were well-educated and wealthy, and suddenly, one night, they were dumped into a dusty place. Their lives were uprooted, and the issue of getting noticed so late was wrong. But blaming all Muslims is wrong. The state could have protected the colonies, but it didn’t. People needed to be held responsible for everything that happened.”
“The kind of upsurge and angst that was created during the years 84 to 87, when there was a mix of the governor and Gulsha’s rule, is not something that is discussed. The movie Umar Mukhtar catalyzed the unrest. Umar Mukhtar was a Libyan rebel who fought against the Italian forces. After independence, there were two significant political events. One was the dismissal of Sheikh Abdullah in 1953 because he had a large following. The second time was during Farooq Abdullah’s rule. Not all 16- to 17-year-olds were seen carrying weapons. They were being trained by educated people. When you are fighting against terrorists, you must not demean them. He also thinks he is right. They also believe that they are fighting for a cause. And they have selective thinking, so they listen to only the point they want to believe.”
India Pakistan Partition
“At the time of India’s partition, India was at a disadvantage. The British made the geopolitical decision to partition India to establish a strategic presence on the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan was next to oil being produced, and next to China, and then the Soviet nation. Kashmir became a contentious issue at that time.”
“The provision of 370 was to give them protection. A separate condition was provided to them, but it was part of India. Following that, a lot of changes took place. The biggest change that happened was when the GST bill was extended to them. The revocation of this removed the thought of where Kashmir lies. I had many young Kashmiris ask me where Kashmir belongs.”
“Modern-day Kashmiri’s things and aspirations are similar to what other youngsters have. There are a few disputes that they still have in their mind. Because there is no democracy there right now. Economic progress will happen as and when India progresses. Kashmir was one of the richest states because their per capita income is high. Tourism is just one small part of their economy. And now it is safe to travel as well.”