Renewed Violence

THE recent days have witnessed a sudden spurt in violence in Jammu and Kashmir, with militants escalating their attacks on minorities and outsiders. Two days ago, one more Kashmiri Pandit identified as Sunil Kumar was killed and his brother Pintu Kumar was injured after they were fired at by militants in the Shopian district. Grenade attacks have also increased in frequency. Last week, security forces killed two militants after they mounted an attack on an army camp in the border district of Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir. Three Army personnel also lost their lives and two others were injured.

Attacks like these go alongside the targeted killings of policemen and migrant labourers.  This has only further increased the security responsibilities of the UT government, which is already bogged down in fighting the militancy. The surge in violence has come despite the fact that the number of militants has dwindled to under 200 over the last year, the first time this has happened since 2015 when the militant commander Burhan Wani reinvigorated the then flagging militancy.

Ever since the withdrawal of J&K autonomy in August 2019, around 500 militants have been killed in the UT, most of them local youth. Though this has reduced the number of militants, the violence has continued unchanged. And over the last year, the violence has increased as militants have chosen to attack soft targets – civilians, panchayat workers, J&K police personnel visiting home, outsiders and minorities – instead of engaging security personnel. Security forces, as a result, now not only have to combat militancy but also protect a large section of population including many from among their own ranks.

The resurgence in the violence hasn’t, however, dented the larger drift of normalcy in the Valley yet. While the violence has become more conspicuous in recent months, it is still on the margins in so far as its impact on daily life. Tourism is at an all time high after many years. Between January and June over 10 million tourists have visited the Valley. Most hotels, according to UT’s tourism department, are booked through the summer. And as things stand, tourism will continue.

But, at the same time, it is important that the law and order doesn’t deteriorate further. The coming weeks and months of summer will be crucial in terms of the evolving security situation in the Valley. Summer is usually the time when the infiltration takes place and a little more escalation in the influx of the fully equipped militants could change the ground situation in Kashmir for the worse. But on a positive note, the overall situation has by and  large stayed stable and we are already drawing toward the end of summer. Here’s hoping it stays that way and things improve further from hereon.

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