YET another civilian, a Hindu teacher from Jammu’s Samba district, posted in Kashmir Valley’s Kulgam, was shot dead just outside the school by militants. This has taken the toll of the targeted civilian killings in May to seven. Bala had been recruited under the Schedule Caste quota five years ago and was posted in Kashmir. Last year, a teacher from Jammu, also recruited under the same category, was shot dead inside a school in Srinagar’s Eidgah locality. There have been killings of Muslim civilians, policemen, and grassroots workers also underlining a fast deteriorating security situation in the Valley. This has created fear among the employees from the minority communities posted in the Valley, forcing the government to take appropriate security measures. But, as things stand, the government has so far struggled to provide a sense of security. And understandably so. It is not possible for the security forces to individually secure each and every employee.
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 unrest 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 for the better anytime 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 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 – albeit, foreign militants have again started returning to Kashmir considering the demographic of recent killings. 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. Here’s hoping that sooner or later it does.
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