This averages over 17 killings of hardcore militants every month for this year.
New Delhi: In the last eight and a half months of 2017, 148 hardcore militants have been gunned down by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, including the July 10 Amarnath Yatra bus attack mastermind Abu Ismail on Thursday. It is easily the highest kill figure of militants as compared to the previous two periods of unrest in 2008 and 2010, a top official source in the government told this newspaper. This averages over 17 killings of hardcore militants every month for this year.
“These eliminations are all significant because we have been consciously going after the leaders. The figures are bound to increase as about 180-190 militants are still operating in the state, and our operations will continue,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
“Also, the earlier period of unrest came to an end because the government appointed interlocutors for peace. This time, the government has gone in for a tough response and on the contrary has only strengthened operations,” the official added.
If one considers the major incidents of unrest in J&K, there are three distinct periods — 2008, 2010, and the ongoing one in 2016-17. By far, the ongoing period is the longest one that sparked off after the gunning down of Hizbul Mujahideen militant leader Burhan Wani on July 9 last year.
In the 2010 unrest, 110 militants were killed while the entire year totaled a huge 232 deaths, averaging more than 19 kills a month. The official attributed the unprecedented success to huge strides in technical intelligence, which implies hacking into the communication apparatus of the militants, especially mobile phones and other modes.
However, a new trend this time is that while the earlier unrests were focused on the cities and in areas along the national highways, this time the focal areas of unrest were mainly in the suburbs and far-flung areas.
“That is why the number of kills in Srinagar is much less than before and instead the terrorist hubs have been places like Kulgam, Traal, Pulwama, Budgam, and Shopian,” the official underscored.
The top official suggested that this may be the best time to go in for a lucrative surrender policy.
“This is the time that the terrorists are under pressure. It can work wonders now,” he said. Militants, who surrender, get Rs 1.5 lakh from the government and another additional amount depending on the type of weapons they hand over.
“As of now if the terrorist turn in a pistol or a revolver, they are given another Rs 2,000 or so, which are decade-old rates. It is time to upgrade the offers,” the official said.
A new surrender policy is hanging fire after the defence ministry had written to the Union home ministry on the issue.
This newspaper had earlier reported in May how the Army, in a major shift in the counter insurgency tactics to toughen the rules of engagement in Kashmir, had decided to operate in a “seek and engage” mode and bring back Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) that were abandoned in 2002 after a public hue and cry over rights violations.
The change in tactics was necessitated because militants were believed to be hiding among the civilian populace and using them as human shields while many civilians have been found to be harbouring militants.