KASHMIR LOOKS FORWARD TO A SPELL OF PEACE

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Kashmir Looks Forward to a Spell of Peace

After a really long time, the Valley welcomes 2023 with the hope of a
period of peace and progress

This year has been quite peaceful, in the sense that not a single violent
protest was reported from any part of the Kashmir Valley. Militancy-related
incidents also saw a decline, perhaps because militants were on the run through
the year.

Bisma Nazir 

As 2022 draws to an end, an analysis of security data released by the government
gives us hope. If the government is willing to act, it is clear that life in Kashmir
could very soon be as normal as in any other part of the country.
This year has been quite peaceful, in the sense that not a single violent protest
was reported from any part of the Kashmir Valley. Militancy-related incidents also
saw a decline, perhaps because during this year militants remained on the run.
They could not assert themselves and in desperation, they attacked a few soft
targets, probably to satisfy their handlers sitting across the border. It appeared as
though innocent civilians were killed merely to perpetuate the scenario that
Kashmir was not safe, perhaps lest it revert to a land of peace.
There was only one incident when a dozen youths pelted stones at security
forces at an encounter site on the outskirts of Srinagar, in the Nowgam area,
where three local Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were killed in an operation in March.
The youths were later identified and arrested in line with letter of the law.
As far as encounters between the army and militants are concerned, 2022 was a
year when security forces had the upper hand. Forty-four top militant
commanders were killed. All the terrorist groups operating in Kashmir are now
practically leaderless. Ashraf Molvi of the Hizbul Mujahidin and Mohammad Asif
Bhat of JeM were killed on May 6 and October 10 respectively. There were 275
encounters in which 126 terrorists were killed. Out of the terrorists killed, 33 were
foreigners, mostly from Pakistan. However, 19 civilians were killed in various

terror attacks in the Valley, while 16 security personnel lost their lives. This year
witnessed 99 fresh recruitments by terrorist outfits, which is a far lower number
compared to previous years. In fact, the districts of Kupwara, Bandipora and
Ganderbal witnessed zero recruitments this year. Infiltration attempts across the
border also declined drastically, particularly during the second half of the year.
For the first time in last 10-12 years, internet services remained uninterrupted
even on August 15, Independence Day. Though the number of encounters
remained high, it only reflected the improved surveillance by the Jammu and
Kashmir police, the army and paramilitary troops. Also, for the first time, barring
some high-profile encounters, internet services were not disrupted, even in the
affected areas.
Another parameter that shows that Kashmir is returning to normalcy was the fact
that the areas where local militants lived and operated and were killed in were
not shut down. Even though about 55 local militants were killed, the areas were
not shut down. The highest number of local militants were killed in Pulwama and
Anantnag districts while the maximum number of foreign militants were killed in
Kulgam and Shopian districts. Security forces scaled up operations against the
militants this year, resulting in large casualties – 65% of the youths who joined the
militant outfits were killed within a year. This shows the success of surveillance,
which was at its best throughout 2022.

 

 

Meanwhile, allegations of human rights abuses went down to 0.1% as the security forces observed maximum restraint during their operations. There was, however,
a serious allegation of custodial killing in Shopian district in October, where the
parties concerned gave contrasting statements on the killing of the youth. Picking
up of youth during nocturnal raids by the police and security forces in Kulgam,
Shopian and Anantnag districts were, however, reported quite frequently. Here
again the parties concerned gave contradictory versions. Police and security
forces claimed that those picked up were OGW’s (Over Ground Workers) who
were aiding and abetting terrorists while the parents claimed that their wards
were innocent .

The first five months of the year witnessed the maximum number of militant
casualties. Ninety terrorists were killed and around 55 were taken prisoner, the
highest number in several years. Militant outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba,
Jaish-e- Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahedeen and Al-Badar suffered huge losses in
this year.

What remained a cause of concern for the police and security forces, was the
influx of small weapons meant for targeted killings. More than 360 pistols were
recovered by the security forces during anti-militancy operations, with 92 seized
in May alone. Recovery of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) also remained a
cause for concern for the security forces. However, more than 10 IEDs were
destroyed by the security forces, preventing a large number of deaths.
Narcotics- and pistol-smuggling using drones were the highlight of the year. From
the Samba sector in Jammu to the Machil sector in North Kashmir’s Kupwara
district, smuggling in of weapons and narcotics were reported throughout 2022.
Despite this and the supply of arms in large numbers, Kashmir remained by and
large peaceful. There was a rise in political activities in the last quarter of the
year. People participated in large numbers in public rallies organized by various
political parties. The year also witnessed a record influx of tourists in winter and
summer. The Amarnath Yatra culminated peacefully, barring one incident where
many pilgrims died in a flash flood. Schools remained open throughout the year
and sports activities witnessed a phenomenal rise.
As the year draws to an end, there is renewed hope that 2023 will be more
peaceful and progressive for the region.

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