Discourse in Kashmir shifting from azaadi to ‘primacy of Islam’, says Indian Army

A top Indian Army official said the discourse in Jammu and Kashmir is shifting to “primacy of Islam” over azaadi, adding to complexities in dealing with sectarian faultlines in the border state.

“Jammu and Kashmir continues to be a challenge and it’s being dealt with; it’s getting a little more complex as slowly the discourse, as indeed the entire thrust, is taking a shift towards a primacy of Islam over azaadi. So that clearly adds a fairly complex dynamic to stabilising the nation as it were,” deputy chief of army staff (planning & systems), Lieutenant General Subrata Saha, said.

He has also served as general officer commanding 15 Corps, Srinagar. He was speaking at a seminar on ‘leveraging defence
expenditure as a tool for nation building’, organised by the college of defence management here.

Giving a case study on Jammu and Kashmir vis-a-vis the annual defence expenditure in border areas, Saha said about Rs 7,516 crore are being spent every year on border roads, infrastructure and other operational works in the state.

Noting that the annual budget of Jammu and Kashmir is Rs 64,669 crore, he said, “Approximately 12 percent (Rs 7,516 crore, which is more than double the most revenue-generating power development department in the state at Rs 3,674 crore), in addition to the state budget, happens because of the armed forces.”

Jammu and Kashmir has a population of 1.42 crore. About 2.6 lakh armed forces personnel deployed in the state contribute 12 percent of state budget. “So, that’s the kind of financial contribution of the armed forces into a border state, as it were,” Saha added.

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