With the frequency of militant-related incidents on a rise in Kashmir, increasing violence is leading to casualties of security forces.
After the deadly suicide bomb attack on a CRPF convoy on February 14 in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district which killed 49 paramilitary personnel and injured dozens more, three major encounters between militants and security forces took place in the valley.
Two of these encounters took place in southern Kulgam and Pulwama districts while the one in Handwara area of northern Kupwara district, leading to the death of an army major, a deputy superintendent of police, an inspector of CRPF and eight forces personnel, including four army soldiers. Besides nearly two dozen security personnel, including a brigadier-level officer and a deputy inspector general of police, were injured in these deadly gunfights.
A senior police officer asserts that the rise in casualties on the forces side was due to several reasons including “avoiding collateral damage, topography of areas, and of course training of foreign militants, who, of late, follow the strategy of changing locations and using sophisticated weapons to target forces during gunfights.”
“In these three encounters, majority of slain militants were Pakistanis, affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammad, who carried sophisticated weapons and were well trained. Besides, all these encounters took place during day time and in areas where topography and terrain were tough,” he said.
Inspector general of CRPF (operations) Zulfikar Hassan says multiple factors are responsible for casualties suffered by forces in the recent encounters. “Forces have suffered casualties in the past also, it’s nothing new. But yes, of late, where we suffered casualties, we are taking greater risk to ensure there is no civilian casualty,” he said and added security forces don’t want collateral damage.
The IG CRPF also said that officers sustain bullet injuries because “they lead from the front as is evident from the nature of injuries they receive.”
Though violence is on surge since 2014, there has been a spurt in recent months. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs data between 2014 and 2018, there has been a 93 per rise in the number of security personnel killed in Militant incidents in Jammu and Kashmir.
In 2018, the death toll for militants and security forces in Kashmir touched the highest point in a decade. There are signs that militants are also changing their tactics. In recent months, they have abducted and killed police officers. In November, indigenous Hizbul Mujahideen circulated videos on social media showing the executions of alleged informers — a brutal move not seen before in Kashmir.