J and K enjoys peace, but for how long?

J and K enjoys peace, but for how long?

For three seasons, the unrest and the civilian killings in police and security forces actions against protestors helped the eclipsed militancy to return to the scene. It changed the mindset of vast section of youngsters, who had otherwise kept themselves aloof from violence.

Rajesh Kumar, a para military man, fighting militancy, said the unrest of last three years had thrown a big challenge on security front.

In fact the local police, army and paramilitary forces had established contact with youth, allegedly involved in stone pelting during unrest.  “The aim was to divert the attention of these youth, who indulge into stone pelting. We succeeded to a greater extent in our efforts,” said Mohammad Rouf, a cop.

Director general of police Kuldeep Khuda said still there are 500 to 600 militants active in J&K.  The army authorities also hold a similar view about the number of militants. Till some years back the foreign militants particularly those from Pakistan used to be more visible with local militants.

Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) continues to be the strongest local militant outfit. A pro-Pakistan and Pro-Islamic group, it was founded in 1990.  Prior to that JKLF, demanding an independent and secular J&K had launched the militancy in the state. However, the militant outfit announced a unilateral ceasefire in 1994 following the large scale killing of its militants and arrest of others. “We announced the cease-fire as international community and civil society in India wanted us to switch over to peaceful struggle. But our efforts for the peaceful movement were not responded positively by government of India” said Mohammad Yasin Malik, chairman JKLF.

Besides HM, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Harkat-e-Jehad-e-Islami and some other groups are also active in Kashmir.  The apple rich town of Sopore in north Kashmir is again the stronghold of militants. Prior to militancy, Sopore was represented in the legislative assembly by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference. He used to contest the polls on Jammat-e-Islami ticket. From 1990 to 1993, Sopore remained under total control of militants including foreigners. However, the security forces regained control in 1993.

Early this year militants besides attacking security forces and police also resorted to civilian killings. The killing of two sisters evoked strong condemnation and the militants denied their hand in the killing of the girls. Senior Congress leader Ghulam Rasool Kar and local superintendent of police Altaf Khan also survived attempts on their lives.

Following the killing of the two girls and some political activist from ruling National Conference and Congress, Geelani issued a strongly worded statement. The hardline leader indirectly criticised the atrocities on people but at the same time did not rule out the hand of government agencies to cause a wedge between people and separatist movement.

The Army believes that till now there has been no infiltration this year. However, chief minister Omar Abdullah, had recently revealed that 30 to 40 militants had crossed over to Kashmir. He said the details were provided by the intelligence wing of state police and IB.

But army did not confirm the intelligence input and stuck to its stand that no infiltration had occurred. However, the defence authorities say the militants would desperately try to cross over LoC in the weeks to come and that is why the security forces have been put on a high alert.

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