IN September last year, security forces declared Srinagar as one of the areas in the Valley which had zero active militants. Other areas were Tral and Doda, a district in Jammu division. But within six months, Srinagar has again militants. On Saturday, the J&K police released a list of nine “wanted militants”, active in the summer capital.
Similarly, there are reports of new recruits from many areas of South Kashmir including Tral. Last year in June, Tral had been declared free of militancy by the J&K Police with the killing of Mohammad Qasim Shah, a longstanding militant. This had never happened before in three decades of separatist armed campaign in the town. Tral had always been a militant bastion, even in the years from 2010 to 2015 when fewer militants operated in the Valley.
So the development had a far-reaching literal and symbolic significance. It signalled a prospect of the end of militancy in Kashmir. More so, at a time when the armed forces had also killed a majority of militants at Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam, the places in South Kashmir that have emerged as new militant strongholds in recent years.
But as some resurgence of the militancy in Srinagar has shown, the reality is not as simple. If the past is any guide, the militancy in Kashmir has often risen from the ashes. Last year, senior security officials had written the epitaph of Kashmir’s militancy. And also by no less than the J&K’ police chief Dilbagh Singh who at a press conference had said that the “security forces will ensure return of complete normalcy in Kashmir in next few months”.
Be that as it may, the situation seems to have gone back to square one as far as the militancy. If we go by the estimate of the General Officer Commanding of the Army’s 15 Corps, Lt Gen BS Raju, there are 215 active militants in Kashmir, 125 of them local and 90 of them foreign. This has been more or less the annual number of militants over the past four years. And there’s little hope there will be marked decline in the near future. The simultaneous recruitment of the local youth in the militant ranks and the infiltration from across the border invariably replenishes the shortfall caused by the killings of the militants. And it will continue to do so unless the dynamic that animates the militancy is addressed. There’s now hope that the ceasefire agreement along the LoC and likely resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan could go some way to reduce the violence in Kashmir. There’s a precedent for this when the LoC truce was first signed in 2003 followed by the promising four years of the engagement between the neighbours. Here’s hoping for a similar turn of events this time too.
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