Is new militancy on the rise again in Kashmir?

Is new militancy rearing its head in Kashmir?

At a time when the anti-insurgency grid has been able to wipe out the top militant leadership in Kashmir in recent months, is new militancy in Kashmir rearing its head

Representative photo: Credit: AFP

After the abrogation of Article 370 last August, New Delhi has virtually crushed Jammu and Kashmir's separatist groups advocating a political struggle for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. There is little space even for mainstream political parties to carry out their activities and none among them has so-far openly raised a voice against the unilateral decision of New Delhi to withdraw J&K’s autonomy.

 
In an op-ed Pakistan's state media, Dawn, Munir Akram, Pakistan’s current ambassador to the United Nations, had last year suggested that militant organisations, especially indigenous outfits like Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, rather than the Hurriyat’s political leadership, “will lead the new struggle.”
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Almost a year after the revocation of Article 370, as militancy hurtles to the fore in Kashmir, it is more or less organised along the lines predicted by Akram. New militancy is rearing its head.
 
On April 6, five militants and five para-commandos were killed in hand-to-hand combat in the Keran sector along the Line of Control (LoC). The operation stretched to over five days after the militants had infiltrated from Neelum Valley (PoK) into the Keran sector of Kupwara on April 1.
 
“The Resistance Front" (TRF), a newly formed “seasonal” group in the Kashmir, claimed responsibility for the attack. Security agencies believe TRF has been created by Pakistan in order to escape international scrutiny.
Since then 20 more security personnel, including a colonel and a major, have been killed in ambushes and encounters across Kashmir. Over 110 militants, including top commanders, have also been killed in the first six months of the year. And most of this violence has taken place in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic.
 
The militants who carried out these attacks or were engaged in encounters in recent months were mostly Kashmiris, who had not been going to Pakistan for arms training. They would join militancy and train locally.
 
A valley-based political observer said people, especially the youth, feel that any space between Kashmir and New Delhi has been wiped out and there are only two choices before them now. “The choice is between surrendering to the new political reality, which has forcibly subsumed Kashmir within the larger Indian identity, or resistance to it,” he said.
 
“And then there is the Pakistan factor also. By unilaterally integrating Kashmir, New Delhi has displayed a contemptuous rejection of Islamabad’s claim over Kashmir,” he added.
 
If Islamabad chooses not to agree with New Delhi’s new aggressive stance on Kashmir, it may send in more militants to scale up the level of ongoing violence in the region. The recent infiltration of militants and the consequent violence across Kashmir shows that Pakistan has already started to work to achieve this agenda.