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The Trajectory of Kashmir Violence
Gaurav Kumar
2018-09-10
Region : Asia, South Asia, India,
Issue : Security, Terrorism, Politics,
There is a pattern to the violence in Kashmir in 2018, a mere replication of what have been the physiognomies of the conflict in the valley. There might be a marginal variation in the action of the terrorists; nonetheless it has followed a similar trajectory in the last half a decade. One identifiable pattern of the violence in the valley is the incessant attacks on the security personnel. The overall attacks on the security personnel and its party has witnessed an upward trend, apparently due to the deliberate targeting by the terrorist groups operating in the valley. It is also clear that the attacks are aimed to inflict maximum causality on the forces.
On 07 September, in Mehjoor Nagar area of Srinagar, the terrorists lobbed a grenade at a bunker of the Sashastra Seema Bal. Earlier, on 04 September, a grenade attack on the CRPF party in Sangrama area of Sopore in Baramulla District injured three Central Reserve Police Force personnel. On August 28, terrorists tried to blow up an Army vehicle by detonating an IED in Pulwama District. The blast was followed by indiscriminate firing on the forces. On the other hand, forces are continuing with their operations against the terrorists. The last couple of months have witnessed surge in the operations of the forces, after a short lull during the Ramadan ceasefire. The 'non-initiation of combat operations' was announced on 17 May at the beginning of Ramadan, and was scrapped after the Ramadan, which witnessed increase in the activities of terrorist groups. The Government later decided not to extend the suspension of operations against terrorists. Recently, GOC 15 Corps of Army Lieutenant General A.K Bhatt has stated that in the view of upcoming election in the region, the Army will increase operations against militants in Jammu and Kashmir. The announcement came days after Security Forces launched massive anti-militancy operations in 18 villages of Pulwama District on 03 September.
Attacks on Police and Family Members
One of the worrying trends seen during this period is the selective targeting of the local police personnel and their family members. Six family members of Inspector Nazir Ahmad were abducted on August 30 in South Kashmir, taking the number of abducted family members of the Policemen to seven within a period of 24 hours. On the same night, during a raid at the house of another Policeman Ghulam Hassan Mir at Midoora in Tral area of Pulwama District, terrorists abducted his son Nisar Ahmad. A day earlier, a group of masked militants barged into the house of a policeman Rafiq Ahmad in Pinglish village of Pulwama District and abducted his son Asif Rafiq. Altogether eleven family members of six policemen have been kidnapped by terrorists across four districts in south Kashmir within a span of 36 hours. Later, they freed three out of 11 relatives of policemen they had abducted.
The pattern is worrying, primarily because the family members of the policemen are exposed to such gruesome acts of violence. They are vulnerable to the consequences of a conflict with which they have nothing to do. The strategy, as it appears, is to intimidate the local males from joining police force. The abduction of the relatives or the family members is in turn intended to warn the families not to send their men to join police. Other related consequence is that it will force the local police to rethink about any action against terrorists.
The targeting of the family members is the new low in the Kashmir conflict, and highlights the unethical tactics of the terrorists, who often get away with terms like ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘disgruntled citizens,’ without being scrutinised for their violence. The deliberate targeting has evoked strong response from the Government. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has suggested hardening stand against the terrorists in the wake of the abduction of relatives.
Indifferent Civil Society
It appears that civil society in Kashmir is yet to grapple with reality. The massive clashes in Khudwani in Kulgam District after the news of the killing of the HM ‘divisional commander’ Altaf Ahmad Dar of Hawoora and his associate reached these districts, suggest that a section of the society is still sympathetic to these violent armed groups. The unabated presence of the stone pelters near the army operation areas is the most prominent pattern of the conflict in Kashmir that has only grown with time, instead of receding, is indicative of their indifference towards the current scenario.
At a tactical level stone pelting has gained unparallel significance in the recent past, as it is able to achieve two objectives: highlight the genuine or otherwise disappointment of the civil society with the presence of forces; at the same time, prevent the security forces from conducting the operation and help the terrorist escape the spot. It has added additional security dilemma to the valley, where forces have to handle not only the counter-action of the terrorists but also the unruly mob. This increase in number of violence against family members of policemen, along with increase in the incidence of stone pelting is only going to worsen the security scenario in Kashmir, further deteriorating relations between the security forces and the civilians in the valley.

The views expressed above belong to the author(s)

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