Spurt in Militant Attacks

MILITANTS carried out four successive attacks in Kashmir over Sunday and Monday killing a CRPF personnel and critically injuring four others including a Kashmiri Pandit businessman, another CRPF personnel, and two non-local labourers. Bal Krishan, a Kashmiri Pandit, received bullet injuries on his hand and leg. His condition is stated to be stable. Militants also shot at two CRPF personnel in Srinagar's volatile Maisuma area, killing one and injuring another. Two migrant labourers were also attacked at Lajoora village in South Kashmir.

The spurt in attacks has been a cause of concern for the security agencies, who can’t protect each and every migrant or Kashmiri Pandit who is in the Valley. The attacks have also proved that militancy remains a formidable challenge for the security forces despite the killings of a large number of militants in recent years. According to an estimate,  close to 500 militants, most of them the local youth,  have been killed since the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. Though the new estimates have put the number of militants under 200 - the first time the figure has fallen below this important psychological threshold - there has been little reduction in the levels of violence.

What is more, security agencies have already warned that the violence could once again scale up this year, with the local militancy expected to be reinforced by the influx of foreign militants - albeit, there have so far been no indications that this is happening. Militancy is largely led by the local youth who come from a demographic of 15 to 25 year olds.

The fresh attacks have been condemned by the major J&K politicians such as Omer Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, both former J&K chief ministers. Going forward, the situation looks unlikely to change for the better anytime soon. In fact, the omens for the future look grim, what with the Taliban back in power in Afghanistan which has naturally emboldened the militant groups. Security agencies have also time and again expressed these fears and warned about the influx of Afghan militants and their sophisticated weaponry into Kashmir.

This calls for New Delhi to change tack in Kashmir. In recent years it has excessively relied on a security-centric approach to Kashmir. But as things stand, its dividends are now increasingly wearing thin. In the process, it has alienated and antagonized a large section of the population.  Hence the urgent need for the government to reach out to the people and initiate a political engagement. That certainly can make a redeeming difference.

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