The Indian Army deployed in the state is not engaged in the current standoff between police and separatist-minded protesters, but is focused on defending the Line of Control against Pakistan. Even without the Army in the streets, places like the main city of Srinagar – where groups of police and rifle-toting paramilitaries stand at many street corners – feel more militarized than villages being held by US Marines in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.
Order first, politics second
By sending in additional forces, India is hoping to restore order before sorting out a political process for redressing Kashmiri grievances. “Tragically, we have locked ourselves into a cycle of violence where protest leads to death, leading to further protests and further casualties,” Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir State, told reporters Monday. “We have to break that cycle.”
Mr. Omar also stressed that “a political package more than an economic package” was needed. In this he seems to be at odds with his seniors in New Delhi, including Sonia Gandhi, the leader of India’s ruling National Congress Party, who called for “a continued push on the development agenda.”
The additional forces might allay some of the fatigue expressed by rank-and-file police, who talk about 17-hour shifts on “emergency” days. And police leaders in Kashmir do mention the need for a jobs program targeted at former militants and returnees from Pakistani training camps.