Revocation of special status of Jammu & Kashmir by Modi govt has failed to contain violence in the region

54 security personnel and 32 civilians were among 229 persons killed in the first half of 2020, says a report released by two rights bodies based in Srinagar

Photo courtesy- Twitter
Photo courtesy- Twitter

Gulzar Bhat

The recent political killings in the Valley have laid bare PM Narendra Modi-led BJP government's false narrative of normalcy in the Valley.

On Wednesday, a BJP worker and two of his family members were shot dead in north Kashmir's Bandipora town. The killings took place exactly a month after militants killed a Congress party sarpanch in Lukbawan village in Annatnag.

Former BJP district president Sheikh Waseem Bari, his father Bashir Ahmad and brother Umar Bashir were shot dead by militants at around 9 pm on Wednesday outside their house. At least eight police personnel guarding their residence failed to save them. All of them have now been arrested.

The incident coincides with the fourth death anniversary of slain Hizbul Mujahadin commander Burhan Wani, who re-animated militancy in Kashmir.

After the Modi-led BJP government at the Centre did away with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the it into two Union Territories, the government said that the radical move would usher in a new dawn of peace and development in the trouble-torn region.

Both Prime Minister and Home Minister held the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir responsible for engendering the violence and sentiment of separatism the region. However, eleven months down the line, there hardly seems any change in the ground situation, with violence still being the order of the day in the newly carved Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

More than 120 militants have been killed this year. Although comparatively less number of youth have signed up for various militant groups, the security forces have been continuously suffering losses.

Sources told National Herald that at least 54 security personnel have been killed from January 1 through June 30 this year while 30 civilians have lost their lives during this period.

In May 2020, an army colonel, a major and a police officer was killed during a gun battle with militants in Chongimul village of Handwara.

According to official sources, 39 young boys have joined militant ranks from January 2020 to May as compared to 85 last year.

According to a bi-annual report prepared by Srinagar-based rights bodies Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), 32 civilians, 143 militants and 54 security personnel have been killed in the first half of this year, from January to June.

According to the report, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed 57 gun battles and 107 cordon-and-search operations during this period.

"Children and women continued to be the victim of violence in J&K as three children and two women were killed in the first half of 2020,"reads the report.

The recent attacks in north Kashmir suggest that militants have increased their footprints in parts of north Kashmir.

"The odds of the presence of foreign militants in the area are more as the mountain passes open from April, making it possible for militants sneak into this side of border," said a police official, who declined to be quoted.

Last month, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told reporters in Anantnag that there were lesser number of militants active in north Kashmir. He, however, said that at least 29 foreign militants were active in south Kashmir.

Political observers in the Valley say that the BJP government's August 5 move has come a cropper as it completely failed to head off violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

"The government's narrative that the Valley is inching towards normally after it abrogated the special position of Jammu and Kashmir stands exposed now. The graph of violence has substantially shot up now. Militancy-related incidents have increased in the areas which were largely peaceful before the August 5 move," says Shahnawaz Mantoo, a political observer. He said that the radical move had stalled the political activities in the Valley. "It has also put the life of political activists on the line," he added.

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