'85 militants, 60 SF personnel, 18 civilians killed since Jan this year'

Militancy related violence in Kashmir has recorded a sharp increase this year, with 163 persons killed in the first four months of 2019, according to official figures accessed by Greater Kashmir.

The killings include 18 civilians, 60 security forces personnel and 85 militants during the intensified counterinsurgency operations across the Kashmir valley.

The highest number, 70 were killed in February, 23 in January, 36 in March and 15 in April.

Between January and March this year, 43 armed encounters took place between militants and security forces, resulting into the killing of around 60 militants, according to the date available with security agencies.

However, the number of killings and encounters were down in April and May apparently because of the general elections.

During the polling period, the official data reveals that there have been nine encounters in which 27 persons died, and in one encounter militants managed their escape.

However, as the polling ended, Kashmir valley again started to record a sharp increase in militancy related violence.

Senior police officers believe that the deadly suicide car bomb attack in Pulwama in February which prompted Indian airstrikes in Pakistan increasingly shaped up as a milestone for Kashmir insurgency which has seen a fall for the first time in recent years.

“Its impact was visible in the parliamentary poll which concluded without any major attack,” said a senior police officer.

A senior police officer posted in southern Kashmir said the aftermath of the Pulwama attack proved costly for militants as back-to-back counterinsurgency operations led to the killing of key militant commanders.

The officer said that after the Pulwama attack about 60 militants have been killed and among them 33 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) which had claimed responsibility for the suicide strike.

“The leadership of the J-e-M has been decimated,” the police officer said.

“Among the killed militants were its key commanders, including those who planned the attack.”

The officer said that massive offensive against foreign militants has severely impacted the insurgency in the Kashmir valley and also claimed that militant recruitment dropped drastically in recent months.

Recently, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police, Dilbagh Singh claimed that there were “satisfying” trends in the counterinsurgency campaign as the recruitment of youth into militancy had drastically decreased, surrenders by militants had increased and civilian protests during anti-militant operations had also reduced.

In 2018 according to home ministry figures, 270 militants, 86 civilians, 95 security forces personnel were killed in militancy-related incidents. Both militants and security forces hardened the fight during the year marked by big gunfights, civilian abductions and execution videos, a first since insurgency erupted in Kashmir three decades ago.