On 10th of February 2021, scholars and activists from Switzerland, Cyprus and Indiagatheredfor a webinar observing the37th anniversaryof theunfortunate murder of Indian Diplomat Ravindra Mhatre. At the time of his killing by members of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in 1984, Mhatre was the Assistant Commissioner of the Indian High Commission in Birmingham, UK. Through such online international engagements, it was hoped to sensitize the global academic and policy circles on a less remembered incident that nevertheless was one of the first instances of a state-sponsored attack against Indiaand changed its security outlook for the years to come.
The participants included Polina Vyronos, political commentator from Cyprus, Ali Yehya, Geneva based Human Rights activist and the moderator of the webinar, Shujaat Ali Qadri, President of Muslim Students Organization and Kumar Aniket, a corporate consultant and a political analyst. The broader idea behind the webinar was to highlight India’s four-decadelong battle against state sponsored terrorism. Well before the world would wake to the international metastasis of terror networks across Asia and Europe, India was arguably the first casualty of these campaigns, that began with Mhatre’s killing.
Commenting on the ongoing trends, Polina pointed out to the continuing trends of violence and attacks that only hampered the much-needed stability India has been aspiring to achieve. Such attacks, Polina highlighted, were not the solution as any pragmatic approach would need political engagements rather than deployments of such tactics. Resonating with the events of February 2019 wherein a suicide bombing by Jaish e Mohammad in Kashmir brought both India and Pakistan on the brink of a war, Polina said that any kind of attack is going to trigger a reaction back. Kumar Aniket discussed the problems in Kashmir in a wider context of the post-cold war setting wherein the assets once used in the Afghan Jihad were shifted towards Kashmir, ensuing into a mayhem, that has been largely controlled but shows up in the form of intermittent attacks on the Indian forces.
Besides Pakistan’s activities, there is also a need to look into China’s activities considering evidence of collusion on the geopolitical front. Affirming India’s right to respond to the cross-border challenges, Yehya called for the need for a peaceful way out of the present situation and hoped for early solution to these challenges.
The participants agreed on the need for a peaceful solution but at the same time highlighted that any process had to begin with the cessation of attacks on the Indian personnel stationed in the region, especially when such acts were deliberately aimed at amplifying the problems.