Army’s ‘Operation All Out’ facing stiff challenge in Kashmir

Representative image

More than 300 young Kashmiris, 10 police men and the younger brother of an IPS officer have joined the ranks of militants during the last two years, confirm police records

A day after teenaged militant Burhan Wani was killed by security forces, former chief minister Omar Abdullah had tweeted, “Mark my words - Burhan's ability to recruit into militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media.”

Two years later, his tweet and the slogans raised at his funeral (Tum kitne Burhan maroge? Har ghar se Burhan niklega) pledging that every home would produce a Burhan have turned out to be prophetic. In death, Burhan Wani has come back to haunt the security forces.

More than 300 young Kashmiris, 10 police men and the younger brother of an IPS officer have joined the ranks of militants during the last two years, confirm police records. Most of them educated and from well-to-do families.

Former RAW chief A S Dulat in an interview said, “A lot of these boys are from fairly good families, some are qualified engineers; So, why are they getting into this? That’s the scary part.”

Stern warnings issued by the Army chief in February last year that youth disrupting counter-insurgency operations would be dealt with as anti-nationals and treated as enemies have had little effect. Since then, 106 people, mostly youngsters but who also include some women, have been killed. But incidence of stone pelting on security forces has not stopped.

Official figures say more than 11,000 ‘stone palters were arrested during this time. Mehbooba Mufti had informed the Assembly that 3773 FIRs were registered against stone palters during the past two years, 11,290 people were arrested and later released on bail

Old-timers say that for the first time in 30 years, people with only stones in their hands are facing security forces and getting killed in order to allow armed militants to escape.

Incidence of mobs attacking security forces, snatching weapons from policemen at isolated places, people participating in thousands funerals of the slain militants and even giving gun salutes to the slain militants on their graves have gone up in the last two years.

In January this year, the Legislative Council was informed by the then CM that 251 weapons including AK-47, Self-Loading Rifles (SLR), INSAS, carbine rifles and a gas gun were snatched by militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

Media reports now suggest that the Government may stop handing over dead bodies of militants to their families, to stop mass participation in funerals.

Security forces claim to have killed 350 militants, most of them Indians, and at least 106 civilians in the Valley since Burhan’s death.

Army’s “Operation all out”, has caused a large number of civilian causalities as well. “Operation All-Out” was started in May 2017, with intention of killing “all the active militants” in the Valley. By the end of 2017, the armed forces killed as many as 210 militants.

Official figures say more than 11,000 ‘stone palters were arrested during this time. Mehbooba Mufti had informed the Assembly that 3773 FIRs were registered against stone palters during the past two years, 11,290 people were arrested and later released on bail.

Saner voices have been calling for a dialogue and a political solution. But the authorities appear to be deaf to sane suggestions.

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