As the recent encounter in Kupwara would have us believe, omens for Kashmir are not good this year too. Ten people lost their lives in the encounter including five militants and five security personnel. The operation lasted for two days and involved more than a thousand security personnel. The operation is significant for many things. For once, it once again underlines the futility of expecting the situation to improve by killing militants. This is going to be an endless tug of war. It is easy to replenish the depleted ranks of the militants as the history of the past three decades will tell us. More so, when even the highly educated youth and those from the apparently insulated families are taking up arms as is evident by the decision of a PhD scholar and now the son of the top Hurriyat to join militancy.
According to an estimate, around 60 people have died in Kashmir until the first week of March this year. As is self-evident, despite the claims to the contrary, there has been no let up in the troubled security situation in the state. Nor is there a reason to foresee a degree of stability in the near term.
What is more, a growing challenge of the militancy in the state has been complemented by the worsening situation on the borders. In a development that shows an expanding arc of the conflict, the recurrent exchange of firing along the Line of Control and the International Border in Jammu has now spread out to the border in Kashmir. In recent past, the LoC along Hajipeer and Uri in North Kashmir has flared up, leading to migration of the border residents to the safer areas. This is first time after the 2003 ceasefire agreement, that the ceasefire violations have returned to the border in Kashmir with such frequency and ferocity.
What is more, the Valley has witnessed surfacing of the outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Qaeda, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen. That is, if we discount ISIS claim of having set its foot in Kashmir. ISIS has so far owned the two attacks in the Valley: one, the killing in February of a police man guarding the residence of a senior Hurriyat leader Fazal Haque Qureshi. And another of an SHO who was killed in November in a shoot-out at Zakura, on the outskirts of Srinagar.
This makes it clear that the situation in the state is going through a progressive deterioration. The lingering violence in the state is the latest reminder to the effect. The scenario for the year ahead is thus very bleak. Local recruitment complemented by the infiltration is likely to ensure a violent summer. At the same time, the recurrent border flare-ups will keep alive the possibility of a bigger conflict between the neighbours. If anything, the rising violence in Kashmir and on the borders emphasizes the importance of the dialogue and engagement between India and Pakistan. There is no other way.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.