By Devika Bedi
Arun Jaitley commented that the note-ban has significantly reduced the number of protesters taking part in stone-pelting in the strife-torn region of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Are they trying to make the people feel safer or has the move actually helped control these separatists? What comes in the backdrop of activities in Naxalbari, Anantnag, Shopian, and Bastar is the much polemically discussed policy of demonetization. Intellectuals and politicians have made remarks on the pros and cons of it and many have gone ahead by linking it to terrorism and intra-country skirmishes. Talks of linking demonetization with left-wing extremism (LWE) and militancy in Kashmir have occupied much space in the public and political discourse with varied interpretations and stands.
Insurgency is abundant in our country
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) identifies 106 districts in 10 states that are affected by LWE including Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Maharashtra among few others. According to a leading news organization, there are up to 25,000 Maoists cadres in India with a majority of them being farmers and tea traders. Narendra Modi spoke in Parliament remarking that more than 700 Maoists have surrendered after November 8, 2016. Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), K Durga Prasad said, “Maoists are disturbed. There is no doubt about it that they are running from pillar to post”.
Crackdown and ways of dealing with it
Sources from security agencies claim that unaccounted cash worth 1,500 crores of face value could be left stranded. The extremists are “trying to exchange old currency notes through local contractors, businessmen and sympathizers”, said Rajnath Singh. “Another problem for Naxalites is that most of their money is dumped in secret places, from where ferrying the cash at such short notice in such tight surveillance is not easy,” said Inspector general of police, Nagpur range, Ravindra Kadam.
Different scenario in the valley
For Kashmir, a major amount of “terror funding” was employed to organize and propagate separatist activities. Arun Jaitley has remarked that money which was bleeding outside the economy has found its way to the formal banking system. This was with respect to alleged fake currency printed in Pakistan and Nepal and money used for “anti-state” activities. However, there is no single narrative to it. The PDP-BJP government came out stung saying that demonetization had “no effect” on the people of Kashmir as they already had money saved in banks after the growth of militia. It cited alternative ways of funding that are not impacted by the policy. “As per reports from CID, Hawala channels are being used to fund militant violence in the state. Since 2001, 173 Hawala cases have been registered,” the alliance disclosed.
Dual responsibility on the government’s part
Ensuring peace in areas affected by political extremism, whether it is Kashmir or Bastar, cannot be tackled by mere economic reforms. Separatist and communist emotion cannot be eradicated only by suffocating funds. A holistic approach marked by bilateral talks and identification of common grounds will help restore peace. In the past one year, the Indian government has been struggling to combat Islamic and left extremism along national and international diplomacy. Battling the threat that envelops the state and people, the government is responsible for not only safeguarding our preamble but also to maintain peace among the civil bodies while the intelligence deals with the details of the problem. It is simultaneously responsible for being reasonably transparent about its actions and measures employed to ensure security.
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