Lingering Violence

SECURITY forces killed seven militants, including four Pakistani nationals in three counterinsurgency operations in Kupwara, Kulgam and Pulwama districts of Kashmir over Sunday and Monday. This has taken the toll of militant killings this year to 114, 32 of them Pakistani nationals, according to Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar. Against this, just 21 foreign militants were killed in Kashmir last year. In the last ten days, 24 militants have been killed in gunfights, underlining the growing success of the counter-militancy operations. But whether this will lead to the end of militancy can be anybody’s guess. The past three years have witnessed the security forces going on the offensive against militants. Over 500 militants have been killed in the cordon and search operations since the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019. The period has also witnessed the killing of 110 security personnel and around 100 civilians, several of them belonging to minority communities.

The objective of the counter-insurgency campaign has been to eliminate militancy by attempting to kill all the militants within a specific timeframe. Viewed from that perspective, the security agencies have been exceptionally successful over the last three years. It is expected that the killings of the militants at this rate could drastically reduce their number. This, in turn, is expected to alter the political dynamics in Valley and usher in peace. However, whether this would address the deeper factors underpinning the current state of affairs is impossible to predict. More so, when the current uncertainty goes back three decades. The militancy has gone through its crests and troughs but has never been wiped out. And same has been the case with the public unrest. But in the later case, an uneasy peace has by and large held after abrogation of Article 370.

What does the near future, therefore, hold for Kashmir? It seems a lingering uncertainty is here to stay. Many a security expert hope that the continuing successful anti-militancy operations would have substantially reigned in the militancy in the Valley. But then killings have hardly been a deterrent to fresh recruitment of militants. Though local recruitment could be expected to dwindle somewhat, it is unlikely to stop which it had actually done for some years from 2005 onwards. During those years, as the talks between India and Pakistan were ongoing – one of the most productive in decades – the militancy in Kashmir had reduced to a trickle. It is now impossible to imagine that anything like that will happen again. But here’s to hoping against hope.

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