Kashmir In 2013: Overall Violence Down

Kashmir In 2013: Overall Violence Down

31 December 2013
Firstpost
Sameer Yasir

Srinagar: Since an armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir in 1989, after decades of political discontent, it has happened for the first time that the ratio of militants killed and casualties among the security forces is almost indistinguishable in 2013. Never before in Kashmir’s more than two decades of conflict have the fatalities of the security forces and militants been near identical. Clearly, a worrying fact for the security forces is that 2013 saw a significant rise in collateral damage to their men in Jammu and Kashmir, more than in the preceding two years. Although there has been a dip in the actual number of clashes between forces and militants, the losses suffered by security forcers have risen in comparison to the previous two years. One of the reasons attributed by the security agencies is the change in the strategy adopted by militants since the beginning of 2013, and the return of fidyeen attacks by militants on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Among them, the most notorious one carried out in a twin terror attacks on a police station and an Army camp in Hiranagar and Samba in Jammu area on September 26 left eight security men and two civilians dead. The number of militants killed this year stands at 63 compared to last year’s 119. In different incidents of violence, militants caused the deaths of at least 61 armed personnel, and 15 civilians during 2013. In year 2011 and 2012 the number of killed armed personnel was 47. Such a dramatic rise in the number of armed forces' personnel killed has not happened even in the worst militancy years in Kashmir. Senior security officials say they had not envisaged that 2013 would witness these kinds of audacious attacks by the militants, which took place throughout the year, instead they had hoped that the violence would come to an all time low. In fact, overall violence in Jammu and Kashmir was actually at its lowest level since 2002, but fatalities of Indian security force personnel went up. Early this year on June 24 an audacious strike carried out by the militants that killed eight soldiers and injured 19 others was carried out by two militants in broad daylight. After a decade-long slide in terror-related incidents in the Valley, the first six months of 2013 witnessed a sharp upward climb in such incidents. Although Director General of Police Ashok Prasad told Firstpost last month that the violence in Kashmir had come down to the lowest in last 23 years, the threat remains strong. “There has been a coordinated effort by agencies in improving the overall situation in Kashmir, the violence definitely decreased by 30 per cent in 2013 as compared to last year, but insurgency continued to pose a major challenge. We are not giving them (militants) a chance to create havoc. We have been successful in neutralising them in places that are not congested,” Prasad said. On March 13 the militants managed to surprise the security agencies with their changed strategy when they carried out a fidyeen attack on the CRPF camp near Police Public School Bemina. The attackers left five armed personnel dead and injured seven others before being shot dead. The last such attack was on 6 January, 2010 carried out in the city centre Lal Chowk on a CRPF bunker near Bombay-Gujarat hotel. Through 2013, Kashmir appeared to be seeing a renewed phase of armed insurgency that is sparse but deadly, especially catching agencies off guard. Similarly, on 26 April, a group of militants attacked a police party and killed four police personnel near a hotel in the Hygam area near Sopore. The militants fired bullets towards the police personnel and such was the impact that the police personnel sustained serious injuries and died on spot. However the attack of Hyderpora in Srinagar city, a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Kashmir, where eight Indian army jawans were killed and 19 others were injured, is considered one among the deadliest attacks during the year 2013. The continued attempts by militants to infiltrate the Line of Control (LOC) have kept forces busy on the borders too. The Keran sector infiltration bid was part of a new strategy by militants to push in large number from multiple points, surprising forces.