Srinagar: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi set out his Taliban worries to world leaders this week, Indian forces staged raids and battled Kashmir militants who he fears could be emboldened by the Islamists’ victory in Afghanistan.
Kashmir rebel shootings of civilians and police, raids by the security forces on militant hideouts, and insurgent infiltrations across the India-Pakistan ceasefire line have all increased in the Muslim-majority region since the Taliban overran Kabul on August 15.
About 40 people have been killed in shootings and clashes in the two months since then in the Himalayan region.
Militants have targeted minority Hindu and Sikh civilians, while gun battles near the ceasefire line have also left soldiers and rebels dead.
India has not openly blamed the Taliban takeover for the uptick in violence, but it has intensified patrols and fortified some army camps.
Modi told a G20 summit in Rome earlier this week that international efforts were needed to make sure Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for “radicalisation and terrorism”.
He has also raised India’s concerns with US President Joe Biden.
In September, he told the UN General Assembly that no country must be allowed to use Afghanistan “as a tool for its own selfish interests” - a comment widely seen as a reference to neighbouring Pakistan.
Weapons and fighters
India was a backer of the Soviet-puppet government in Kabul that was overthrown by mujahideen forces in 1992.
In 2001 it helped the US-led forces that toppled the Taliban. And it was a major donor to the government that the hardline Islamists crushed in August.
Afghan militants fought alongside Kashmir fighters in the 1980s and 1990s. About 20 Afghan “guest mujahideen” were killed and 10 were captured, according to a former Kashmiri fighter.
‘Oxygen to our movement’
Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Wilson Centre in Washington, said Afghanistan’s new rulers could inspire “stepped up unrest” in Kashmir.
Taliban officials have said they want to maintain trade and other ties with India, meaning that some kind of contact will have to be maintained.
“The Taliban itself won’t agitate for unrest in Kashmir, but those it is aligned with likely will do so,” he said.