Kashmir: Despite infiltration dip, 270 militants active

Despite the killing of nearly 130 militants and less infiltration from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir this year so far, around 270 ultras are still active.

“About 270 militants are active in Kashmir. This year so far, 57 youth went missing from their homes (to join militancy). Of them 23 were killed in encounters while 16 others returned back home,” State police chief Dilbag Singh told reporters.

He said that the number of active militants was less this year compared to previous years when 300 ultras were active in Kashmir.

“The militant numbers are on the decline due to less-infiltration and low local recruitment. The positivity in the situation has also increased as the collateral damage during anti-militancy operations has been all-time low this year,” the police chief said.

The other positive side of the situation this year has been the decrease in the number of civilian killings.

“The civilian killings have come down to 80% compared to previous three years,” Singh said and added the trend of self-radicalisation among youth towards IS ideology has also come down “but had not ended.”

Since the beginning of annual Amarnathji Yatra on July 1, the anti-militancy operations in the Valley have been apparently halted to facilitate the smooth and peaceful pilgrimage.

Barring a couple of anti-militancy operations— one in south Kashmir’s Shopain district and another in northern Sopore area in which two militants were killed— there has been a decline in anti-insurgency operations.

The police chief said that security forces were giving more attention to facilitate smooth Amarnath pilgrimage but maintained that the intelligence network to track down militants has not undermined.

On the presence of a higher number of overground workers (OGWs) of militants and their chances of joining militant ranks in the Valley, Singh said, “The OGWs become militants once the element of radicalisation increases coupled with several other things.” 

“But we still want them to return to the mainstream. We are bringing youth back from militancy. If anyone had become an OGW, he should take himself out of the line,” he said.

In 2018, State Crime Record Bureau (SCRB) recorded that base of OGWs of militants was nearly ten times higher than the active militants in Jammu and Kashmir. There were 2,430 OGWs and 257 militants active in the conflict-ridden state in 2018.

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