Valley of Fear

Violence up, annual death toll highest in a decade

Fayaz Bukhari

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi in power, Kashmir has seen worst violence in a decade making it clear that his muscular approach towards the troubled State and Pakistan is not working.

Kashmiri villagers at the funeral prayers of the local militant that gunned down Shujaat Bukhari
Kashmiri villagers at the funeral prayers of the local militant that gunned down Shujaat Bukhari

This year saw the worst violence in a decade in which 416 people including 78 civilians, 90 security force personnel and 248 militants were killed in Kashmir. This is the worst in a decade as last time in 2008, 505 people were killed in Kashmir including 91 civilians, 75 security force personnel and 339 militants.

The number of deaths in militant violence in Kashmir dropped to 99 in 2012, lowest in the decade. The deaths include 11 civilians, 38 security force personnel and 50 militants but since then it has been rising, especially, after the surgical strikes.

Special Forces of the army in 2016 conducted surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LC) in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) in which the Modi government boasted of destroying militant launch pads and killing of scores of militants who were in training camps and at launch pads. The strikes were carried out after deadly fidayeen strike on Uri Brigade headquarters in which 17 army personnel were killed and around two dozens were injured.

In 2015, 164 people including 17 civilians, 39 security force personnel and 108 militants were killed in Kashmir but it shot up in 2016 when surgical strikes, aimed at reducing violence, were conducted.

In 2016, 247 people including 15 civilians, 82 security force personnel and 150 militants were killed in Kashmir. In 2017, the number of killed people rose to 333 including 40 civilians, 80 security force personnel and 213 militants. But this year, it has been the highest in a decade.

Not only this, the number of ceasefire violations from Pakistan is up since 2016. In 2016, there were 102 ceasefire violations from Pakistan along the LC in which 28 persons including 13 security force personnel were killed. It rose to 241 ceasefire violations in 2017 in which 42 persons including 28 security force personnel were killed and in the first five months of this year, the number of ceasefire violations has shot up to 280 in which 51 persons including 24 security force personnel were killed.

The infiltration of militants from across the border into Kashmir has also shown an increase with the official figures of the first 10 months of this year suggesting that 124 militants infiltrated into Kashmir. In 2014, when Narendra Modi came to power, there were 222 infiltration attempts from Pakistan. After a dip in 2015, when 121 attempts were made to push in 33 militants, 371 attempts in 2016 helped 119 militants to infiltrate. In 2017, 123 militants crossed over in 406 infiltration attempts.

The security forces are upbeat with the killing of a record number of militants this year, but it has not led to a decline in the number of militants operating in the Valley – the reason being that fresh recruitments and infiltration keeps on happening.

The major challenge that security agencies face is the recruitment of militants. Despite killing a record number of 248 militants this year, 250 militants are still operating in Kashmir, as per the Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh.

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