Wahid Bhat| SRINAGAR
2018 was one of the deadliest year in the last decade of armed conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, with 586 killings recorded. However, the graph of violence has significantly increased in 2019.
The first three months of 2019 saw at least 162 killings in various incidents of violence in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir, which include 21 civilians, 58 militants and 83 Indian armed forces personnel.
In comparison to the first three months of 2018, which witnessed 119 killings, the number of killings significantly increased in the first three months of 2019.
For the first time in twenty-nine years of armed conflict, the killing figures (83) of Indian armed forces personnel in Jammu and Kashmir is higher in ratio as compared to the killings of militants.
Among the 83 armed forces and Jammu Kashmir police personnel killed in Jammu and Kashmir, the highest (65) forces personnel were killed in counter-insurgency related incidents, including in a suicide attack by a Kashmiri militant on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama on 14 February, which resulted in the killing of at least 48 CRPF personnel, while 6 Indian armed personnel were killed at the volatile Line of Control (LOC). 7 armed forces committed suicide, 3 CRPF troopers were killed in a fratricidal incident by a CRPF trooper in Udhampur district of Jammu and 2 Special Police Officers (SPO) of Jammu Kashmir Police were killed by suspected militants.
According to the report released by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) said in comparison to the first three months of 2018, which witnessed 119 killings, the number of killings significantly increased in the first three months of 2019.
“For the first time in twenty-nine years of armed conflict, the killing figures (83) of government forces personnel in Jammu and Kashmir is higher in the ratio as compared to the killings of militants,” said the report.
Among the 21 civilians killed in Jammu and Kashmir in the first three months of 2019, the highest (7) killings were carried out by unidentified gunmen in which 2 killings were suspected to be carried out by militants, while 6 were killed due to shelling at LOC. 3 persons were killed by armed forces and 4 persons died in grenade and IED explosions.
Among the 3 civilians killed by armed forces in the first quarter of 2019, 2 were killed by armed forces following encounters with militants, and one 28-year-old youth was killed due to torture inflicted on him by government forces during his detention at Cargo, an infamous torture center in Srinagar.
Pulwama recorded the highest (8) number of civilian killings in the first quarter of 2019, followed by Poonch (3), Baramulla (2), Kupwara (2), Jammu (2), Anantnag (1), Bandipora (1), Shopian (1) and one non-local person who was killed in an explosion.
The killing of civilians accused of being army informers by armed gunmen points to the ways the unresolved conflict in Jammu and Kashmir is inevitably endangering the lives of the civilian population.
Among the 21 civilian casualties, three were minors including twelve-year-old Atif Mir, who was first held hostage by militants at his house in Hajan Bandipora and later was killed when armed forces blasted the very house where he was held hostage.
In the first quarter of 2019, at least 89 Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs) were conducted in Jammu and Kashmir. A majority of these CASO’s were conducted in four south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam.
The 89 CASO’s have resulted in the killing of at least 58 militants, three civilians and destruction of at least 18 civilian properties.
In the first quarter of 2019, at least 18 cases of destruction of civilian properties were reported in Jammu and Kashmir. Out of the 18 cases, 15 are residential houses and 3 are cowsheds.
Internet services continue to be curtailed as part of the ongoing counterinsurgency measures by the government in Jammu and Kashmir. In the first quarter of 2019, internet services were suspended 23 times in Jammu & Kashmir and most of these suspensions of data services were reported in South Kashmir.
In the first quarter of 2019, at least 42 incidents of attacks on Kashmiris across India were reported. The reported incidents of violence against Kashmiris in the first quarter of 2019 (42) are significantly higher than the combined incidents of attacks against Kashmiris in India last year in 2018 (22).
Between January and March, at least 25 people were booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), including but not limited to many of the prominent activists of Jammat e Islami, as well as JKLF chief Yasin Malik.