More militiants killed in Jammu & Kashmir in 2020 than in previous two years points to an uptick in militancy and recruitment

Published : January 22, 2021 14:52 IST

Army personnel block a highway during a gun battle between suspected militants and security forces on the outskirts of Srinagar in December 2020. Photo: AFP

As many as 215 militants were killed in 2020 in Jammu and Kashmir, an increase of 45 per cent from 2019, when 148 militants were killed. This contradicts the Narendra Modi government’s claim that abrogation of Article 370 was effective in containing militancy. The number of slain militants in 2020 also exceeded the 2018 figure of 185. The uptick in the number of dead militants points to an overall spurt in militant recruitment. The 2020 data was revealed by the Director General of Central Reserve Police Force A.P. Maheshwari on Thursday.

Significantly, as many as 251 militants were arrested in 2020, a 53 per cent increase from 2019, when 164 militants were arrested, as per a report published by an English news portal. The report further quoted a Ministry of Home Affairs report to claim that when it came to exchange of fire between militants and security personnel, 2020 was again a more violence-marred year, with 111 such incidents compared to 77 in 2019 and 103 in 2018. There were also more number of grenade attacks by militants in 2020 than in 2019 or 2018. The number of such attacks in 2020 was 37, 16 in 2019 and 27 in 2018.

In a relief to the administration, there was a fall of 80 per cent in the number of stone-pelting incidents — 93 stone-pelting incidents were reported in 2020, down from 477 in 2019, and 603 in 2018. However, this fall was attributed to the prevailing pandemic and could not be seen as a return of normalcy.

On Thursday, at a press conference, Maheshwari admitted that IED attacks continued to be a “major threat” in Kashmir, and even the best technology available currently was “not perfect” to pre-empt such attacks. Maheshwari said the security apparatus was scouting for better solutions to stop troop casualties caused by these crude bombs.

Maheshwari asserted that the “overall situation [in Jammu and Kashmir] is under control”. "We have also made deeper inroads into the local population. Things are changing and people are also supporting us. JK is an integral part of the country. We would like that prosperity comes there and there is complete assimilation and whatever the barriers are, they are removed. Complete assimilation thought-wise should also be there,” he said.

In a deviation from the government line that ending Jammu & Kashmir’s special status has integrated the Kashmiri youth to the mainstream, Maheshwari acknowledged that radicalisation was ongoing in Kashmir. “We don’t deny the possibility of radicalisation [of the local youth] through various means. As the trends go, the youngsters from within the local population are getting incited…. But they are getting neutralised,” he said.