Gunfight In Srinagar

Two militants killed by the government forces in the summer capital on Wednesday turned out to be from the summer capital itself.  Over the last year, several militants from the city have been killed in firefights. The two militants killed at Fateh Kadal  -Mehraj-ud-Din Bangroo and Faid Mushtaq Waza – were apparently fresh recruits as their names didn’t sound familiar enlightened. And this signals a profound transformation in the situation. The growing frequency in the killings of the militants from Srinagar shows the troubling turn that the situation in the Valley is taking. It is after many years that Srinagar is once again taking a fancy to militancy.  In fact, from 2010 onwards to 2016, the summer capital had become a zero militancy area. Sajad Ahmad Khan of Firdausabad Batamaloo was the last militant from previous generation who was killed in Rajouri in 2010. 

Though Khan was little known in the Valley, his death was a remarkable achievement for the security forces as after him, no one from the city picked up gun for another six years. The city continued to hold its place as the hub for pro-Azadi protests. Now with the killings of two more militants from a downtown  locality, Srinagar is back in the reckoning as a militant abode.

Security agencies reckon several youth from the city have joined militancy over the past year. And but for the lack of an easy access to militant networks in Valley more would be willing to join. Do these killings announce Srinagar’s return to militancy? They do. And the prospect has deepened the worry lines in the security establishment.

Should Srinagar plunge back into militancy as looks likely now, it could drastically alter the security situation in the state. For one, it will bring violence back to summer capital of the state which has largely been peaceful for the past decade. No doubt, Srinagar has been witness to several major attacks in recent years, but they have been fewer and far between and carried out largely by the militants from South Kashmir or the foreigners. If anything this made it clear that when it came to militancy, Srinagar was no longer interested. Ever since the late nineties, Srinagar has progressively ceded its dominant role in militancy to rural Kashmir. And over the past some years, the youth of the city have been subservient to militants from countryside and have hero-worshipped them. But they chose not to pick up arms themselves.

But as the fresh militant killings reveal, this reality is changing now.  Srinagar youth are developing a fresh shine to militancy.  And this is happening at a time when New Delhi has resorted to a no holds barred use of force to not only crush militancy but also deter fresh recruitment. If anything the return of militancy to Srinagar has a deeply troubling dimension and a direct result of the government’s hard policy towards the state. And its unthinking continuation can push the situation off the cliff.

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