With J&K Police finally admitting that the third militant killed in the Hakoora encounter in Anantnag was from Telengana, there should be every reason for the state and central government to be worried. Mohammad Taufeeq, as the slain militant has been identified by the police and the before it by the Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind, an Al Qaeda affiliate, had travelled all the way to the state to join the militants here. Though, he was not the first militant from outside the state, Taufeeq is the first who has come to the Valley as part of a global jihadi outfit.
In 2008, Abdul Raheem, a militant from Mallapuram, was killed in an encounter in Kashmir. Ever since, no more youth from the mainland India had come and joined militancy in the state. Is the scenario changing now? It would be too early to say so. But the development has, nevertheless, an extraordinary dimension. As of now security forces apparently dont know whether Taufeeq was the only militant from the mainland active in Kashmir or are there many more. In latter case, the security agencies will have a far bigger reason to feel worried. If more Muslims from the other states of India start joining the ranks of militancy in Kashmir, it will change the complexion of the situation in the state. So far, Muslims from other parts of the country have never supported the militancy or the separatist struggle in Kashmir. Or at best their approach has been one of rank indifference. Even a minor shift in this approach would be of profound significance.
At the same time, the spiralling violence and the alleged presence in Kashmir of the ISIS and the Al Qaeda has once again highlighted the new challenge in Kashmir. It has underlined yet again that the lingering turmoil in Kashmir is not about the numbers. No matter how many militants are killed in a year 2018 were killed in 2017 – it is unlikely to wipe out the militancy. And this has been made clear by the existing number of the active militants in Kashmir which is by and large same as that in the beginning of the last year. So killing ones way out of the problem in Kashmir is just not the option. And this is a reality that is borne out by the trajectory of the militancy over the past three decades. Though relentless counter-insurgency operations have succeeded in reigning it in intermittently, it has not been controlled. Nor is there a prospect of such a situation materializing in near future. The reason for this is that the factors underpinning the turmoil in the state remain unaddressed. And to this end, there is little that has been done. Only a resolute and a focussed political effort to resolve the underlying and festering issues would help changing the dynamics in Kashmir.
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