Has normalcy returned in J-K? In 3-yrs, 101 attacks, 154 explosions, 164 govt forces killed

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At a time when Union Home Minister Amit Shah is on a three day visit to Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) to review the security situation and steps taken to combat militancy in the region, the data shows that the region has not witnessed peace in recent years, including in the post-August 2019 period. As many as 164 government forces personnel have been killed in some of deadliest militant attacks in the past three years.

It is the first visit of Shah since Centre revoked limited autonomy of the region in August 2019. He had last visited Kashmir in June 2019.

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the total number of militancy related incidents recorded in J-K since 2019 stands at 101 till October 12.

As per the data, 28 major militancy related incidents have taken place in 2019, 47 incidents in 2020 and 26 incidents in 2021 so far.

Similarly, since 2019, 154 explosions have taken place in the erstwhile state, the includes 66 blasts in 2019 killing 49 army personnel, 44 explosions in 2020 resulting in the death of three government forces, while one explosion has taken place in 2021 killing two government forces.

Shah on Saturday reviewed the security scenario at a meeting held at the Raj Bhawan. The meeting was attended by top civil administration officials, including Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, and senior security officials from the Army, CRPF, police and other agencies.

Killings in past 3 years

In 2019, according to official sources, at least 78 government forces were killed in various militant attacks. 

In one of the biggest attacks in February 2019, on the highway near Lethpora Pulwama in South Kashmir, at least 40 personnel of CRPF were killed in a suicide car bomb attack, believed to be carried out by a local militant named Adil Dar. The attacker too had lost his life. 

In 2020, at least 56 more personnel of government forces were killed in various attacks.

In the first week of April, 2020, in one of the deadliest attacks witnessed along the Line of Control (LoC) killed five Special Forces officers, in the Keran Sector in north Kashmir’s frontier district, Kupwara.

Similarly, in the first week of May, 2020, a Colonel-rank officer and a Major of Indian Army and three other government forces personnel were killed in an encounter with militants at Handwara in North Kashmir.

Only three days after this incident, militants killed at least three personnel of Indian paramilitary, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), in Wangam of North Kashmir’s Handwara.

In the same month, militants on 20 May killed two personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) and escaped the scene after looting their weapons in the outskirts of the summer capital of Srinagar.

At the time, Kashmir police chief Vijay Kumar had said that the two BSF jawans, who were on road surveillance deployment, were fired upon by two of the three militants on a motorcycle on the 90-ft Road at Pandach, near Soura. The militants had escaped after taking away one AK rifle and one INSAS.

The ensuing gun battle in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, in which the nine Indian army personnel have lost life so far, is not the first incident of its kind this year.

In the first nine months of 2021, according to official data, there were 63 cases of militant-initiated encounters, while around 30 government forces have been killed in various militant attacks.

 On 8 July 2021, two army personnel were killed in the Dadal forest area in Sunderbani Sector of Rajouri.

 According to the Jammu-based Army spokesperson a search party of the Army established an engagement with the militants, leading to a fierce encounter.

 “Two foreign terrorists from Pakistan were killed and two AK-47 rifles and ammunition were recovered from them. In the operation, Naib Subdedar Sreejith. M. and Sepoy Maruprolu Jaswanth Reddy also died,” the spokesperson said.

Since Monday last week, in Poonch forests in the Pir Panchal region, Indian Army has launched a massive combing operation to nab the militants hiding in the woods there. In the ongoing gunfights with the hiding militants, nine personnel of the Indian Army, including two Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), have lost their lives, according to an army spokesperson.

Bloody October

Apart from 164 personnel of government forces killed in 2019, 2020, 2021- the militant attacks against Indian Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police have seen a spike and a new trend this year.

As many as 36 persons, including 10 civilians, have lost their lives in various incidents of violence across Jammu and Kashmir this month.

Despite tall claims made by the J-K administration and police officials that “there is no security lapse” and that “the situation is under control”, the ground reality presents a contrasting picture with the killing of nine soldiers of Indian Army, 10 civilians and 14 suspected militants across the restive region. 

Besides this, three soldiers also committed suicide in different parts of J-K.

On Saturday evening (October 16), suspected militants shot dead a street vendor at Eidgah area in downtown Srinagar. The slain has been identified as Arbind Kumar Sah. 

Another non-local, identified as Sagheer Ahmed, a carpenter from Uttar Pradesh, was also shot dead on October 16 in the Litter area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. 

After the killing of civilians in various incidents the authorities had launched a massive manhunt and arrested around 900 persons from different parts of the Kashmir Valley, but the incidents of violence continue unabated. 

Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Inspector General (Kashmir Range) Vijay Kumar told reporters that it was not possible to provide security to all “soft targets” while insisting that the police knew “how to handle the situation as a professional force.”

“Time and again, I am saying that there is no lapse on the security front. Soft targets were attacked (by militants). It is not possible to provide security to all soft targets. We have identified them (suspected assailants behind the killings of civilians). Two have been neutralised. Three others will also be neutralised soon,” Vijay Kumar told media persons. 

The recent spike in violent incidents across Kashmir has brought back fears that existed in the early 1990s. Sanjay Tickoo, a non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit leader who heads the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti, drew parallels between the situation of the 1990s and the present. 

“Well, what should I say! The fear is palpable. The situation brings back recollection of the horrible 1990s,” Tickoo lamented. 

Several messages billowed out from the mosque public address systems in Kashmir, especially in the downtown area of Srinagar, had appealed for communal harmony and multicultural confluence while expressing solidarity with members of the minority Sikh and Pandit communities. 

All political parties, members of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), Kashmir Economic Alliance and other civil society coalitions have condemned violence against the civilians, especially against the minority, while emphasising on unity and cultural confluence.  

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