Srinagar: The Centre's narrative that militancy is breathing its last in Jammu & Kashmir does not have many takers in the Valley. People say killing militants without resolving the issue for which they take up arms is a fruitless exercise. In July, Union Minister of State Jitendra Singh said militancy is on its last leg in the state and the government is committed to ridding the region of violence. According to South Asian Terrorism Portal, 165 militants were killed in the state in all of 2016 while this year, 135 have been eliminated in the first eight months alone.
A police officer posted in southern Kashmir told Firstpost that top militant leaders such as Lashkar-e-Taiba's Abu Dujana, Hizbul Mujahideen's Riyaz Naikoo and Sabzar Bhat have been gunned down this year. As many as 14 'commanders' of militant outfits have fallen to the bullets of Indian security forces. The officer said only a few militants are at large and they shall be taken down soon.
Residents of areas considered hotbeds of militancy say there are almost no breaks in the security forces' search operations. Mohammad Ashraf, a resident of southern Kashmir’s Tral, which has gained a reputation of being a militant bastion, said the area witnesses some sort of encounter almost every day. Sharing how it's common to hear of a militant or two getting killed, he said it seems the forces have been asked to fight till all the armed rebels are eliminated.
Treating symptom, ignoring cause
Notwithstanding the security forces' unrelenting hunt and strike rate, people of Jammu and Kashmir believe it is not the answer to the militancy problem. “If one militant is killed, another 10 youngsters are ready to tread the same path," separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told Firstpost.
He said even if all the militants are killed, the discontent would remain, leaving scope for more people to take up arms. He said youngsters join forces with militants because they see oppression and suppression everywhere. The Mirwaiz said poverty, constant presence of security forces and the ever-looming suspicion on the state's youth doesn't help.
Azam Inqiliabi, a former militant who was also the chief of an umbrella organisation of militant outfits, United Jihad Council, said the phrase "militancy will die" has been echoing in the Valley for 28 years. He said the youth of the state are frustrated that the Kashmir problem still lies unresolved.
Sheikh Showkat Hussain, dean of School of Legal Studies at Central University of Kashmir, shared this sentiment. She said statements about the end of militancy have been made in the past too but little has changed. “Militancy in the state is attached to and exists because of a certain cause. Till this cause remains, militancy too remains,” she said poignantly.
A former militant from Srinagar’s old city, who did not wish to be named, said militancy has become a part and parcel of Kashmir’s society. He said it will be difficult to erase it without addressing the core issue. However, he admitted that the number of militants is much less compared with what it was during the peak of insurgency in the 1990s. He said if arms and ammunition were available now as readily as they were back then, many more youth would be joining militancy.
Civil society activist and a professor at Kashmir University, Hameedah Nayeem, blamed the government for the youth taking to guns in Kashmir. She said most Kashmiris don't favour violence but the military approach drive the youngsters up the wall.
“Militancy in Kashmir is a reaction to the approach adopted by the Government of India. It is provoking the youth of Kashmir to tread the path of violence. As long as the Kashmir issue remains unresolved and coercive measures are taken, militancy will remain very much intact,” she said.
(Umar Shah is a Srinagar based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)
Updated Date: Sep 02, 2017 16:38 PM