EVER since the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019, Kashmir has witnessed an uneasy calm. The protests and the stone-pelting incidents have gradually tapered off. But the militancy has so far held out. That too, despite the killings of a large number of militants. Last year a total of 171 militants were killed, out of whom 19 were Pakistanis and 152 local. In addition, 44 security personnel and 34 civilians also lost their lives.
According to a police estimate, there are now around 150 active militants in Kashmir, the lowest such number in the last seven years. This has, for once, created a distinct possibility that the militancy could very well end in the next few months or over the course of this year if there is no replenishment of the ranks in the form of local recruitment or influx from across the border. Contrary to the apprehensions, the foreign presence in the Valley’s militancy has only increasingly diminished over the years. The Kashmir militancy is now mainly composed of the local youth who are untrained in armed combat and have fewer weapons to use. So, they have posed little challenge to the security forces beyond some occasional attacks on the policemen.
The militancy in the union territory apparently looks on a shaky wicket. But it is premature and also risky to make predictions about Kashmir. The situation in Kashmir remains far too complex to lend itself to linear analysis. A case in point can be the sudden heightened violence in Jammu in October last year, which worsened the security situation in Poonch and Rajouri. The militancy had all but ended in the twin districts since early 2000. But since the middle of 2021, the area witnessed a sharp resurgence in violence, led by the militants infiltrating from across the Line of Control. Fourteen soldiers, eight militants including one in custody, and a civilian were killed in the twin districts until October and then the peace mysteriously restored again. Kashmir could very well look forward to similar twists in the trajectory of militancy this year again.
In the past also this ebb and flow have continued. As the history of the past thirty years shows militancy has gone on. And it seems unlikely to die down until the factors underlying it are also addressed. Or if the replenishment stops, something that has never happened so far. And appears unlikely to happen in near to medium future.
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