Change The Tack

ABOUT 90 militants have been killed in Kashmir this year so far in encounters with security forces, half of them belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba. 73 more youth are believed to have picked up gun in the period. These figures, revealed by the Inspector General of Police for Kashmir Vijay Kumar on Tuesday, once again reflect an abiding reality of Kashmir for the past three decades: the simultaneous recruitment of new youth into militant ranks  replenishes the depleted militant ranks. And in the end, the number of active militants more or less stays the same.
There has, no doubt, been some visible improvement in the security situation as the data provided by the IGP underlines: for example, the Valley also witnessed over a 72 percent drop in the incidents of law and order from August 2017-July 2019 to August 2019 to July 2021.
Similarly,  while 1,394 law and order incidents from August 2017-July 2019 occured in which 27 civilians and four police or forces personnel were killed, there were only 382 such incidents from August 2019 to July 2021,  and there were no killings of civilians or security personnel.
As for militant incidents, these have risen to 680  from August 2019 to July 2021 up from 350 from August 2017 to July 2019.
Over the last two and a half year, the frequent killings of the militants has created an impression that there will be a substantial decrease in their number. But such expectations of security agencies have often been belied. Militancy remains very much alive and kicking. And as the history of the past thirty years proves, while the number of militants has occasionally declined, it hasn't reduced the challenge of militancy. And that too, when the Valley had no more than a hundred militants (2012-13) and South Kashmir which now boasts of over a hundred militants had just 15 of them.
One reason for this is the overwhelming public support that the militancy continues to enjoy in the region. And no magic bullet would reduce this support. It would need a sustained political engagement to address the issues that fuel the militancy in the region.
Going forward, there is little indication that the situation would change. The simultaneous recruitment of the local youth in the militant ranks and the infiltration from across the border invariably replenishes the shortfall created by the killings of the militants. And it will continue to do so unless the dynamic that animates the militancy is addressed. And this redressal is not in the killing of the militants but in a meaningful political outreach to the people of J&K.  And this outreach has been more or less absent over the past seven years. The rationale for such an approach was that a hardline security centric approach will quell the militancy, something that has not happened. It is therefore time that the union government changes tack.

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