Spurt in Violence

THOUGH successive killings of militants by the security forces give a sense that militancy may be on its way out in Kashmir, the recent spurt in attacks and the violence tell a different story. It shows there has been simultaneous replenishment of the depleted militant ranks through fresh recruitment and the influx of militants from across the border - a trend that has stayed constant over the past three decades. This is why while public unrests and stone pelting have drastically diminished since the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019, militancy has continued unabated. And there is little sign that the situation on this score will change anytime soon.

What should be a cause of concern for the Srinagar agencies is that the militancy-related violence has returned to Srinagar after a hiatus of many years. According to the figures, the summer capital has witnessed eight encounters between militants and security forces since January 1 in which 15 militants including six Pakistani nationals were killed. Srinagar has also witnessed attacks on the security personnel, the recent one at Maisuma in which one CRPF personnel was killed and another grievously injured. Both the alleged attackers, who were Pakistani nationals, were later killed in an encounter at Bishembarnagar.

The Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh, however, has said that the security situation in the Valley is far better than before. The police chief added that counter-insurgency operations are being carried out successfully on a daily basis. He, however, acknowledged that militants are carrying out attacks but those involved in them are identified and killed soon.

The attacks on minorities have emerged as a disturbing new pattern. This has been a source of deep worry for the security forces, who can’t protect each and every migrant or Kashmiri Pandit. The greater success in the killings of militants has been no deterrent. According to an estimate, close to 500 militants, most of them the local youth, have been killed since the withdrawal of J&K’s semi-autonomy in 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. An iron-fist approach to quell the militancy has so far borne little fruit. Hence the need for reaching out to youth and engaging them politically. But it seems unlikely that the union government would be willing to change tack as of now.

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