Over the past 24 hours, Kashmir has witnessed three gunfights between militants and security agencies resulting in the killing of four soldiers and three militants.
The sudden spate of violence assumes significance in the backdrop of heightened tension along the Line of Control (LoC) and international border between India and Pakistan.
Though the gunfights are the outcome of pro-active counter insurgency operations by J-K Police and the army, the gunfights raging across the valley, especially those in the forest areas close to the LoC suggest fresh infiltrations by the militants, despite the army’s claims of zero infiltration this year.
With both India and Pakistan taking tough positions on Kashmir and with no dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad or New Delhi and the separatists in sight, the advocates of militancy in Kashmir and in Pakistan, have an opportunity they don’t want to miss.
Firing between Indian and Pakistani troops along the Line of Control is also giving the militants an opportunity to cross over to Kashmir — an otherwise difficult task given the fortified fencing of the border by India.
The dynamics of militancy within Kashmir are also changing and with more local boys joining the militant ranks – over the past two years, the local militants have continuously outnumbered the foreigners (mostly Pakistanis) – the local militant have gained control of militancy in the state. These local militants are fully aware of the local topography and sensibilities which makes them more dangerous than the foriegn militants who would more often than not be only in “pursuit of martyrdom”.
According to the official figures, 20 civilians and 29 security force personnel have been killed in the first nine months of this year which is slightly lower than the numbers of the previous year – 35 civilians and 47 security personnel. However, most of the casualties suffered by the security forces this year have taken place during counter insurgency operations and not in pre-emptive militant attacks – one more indication of the increased military capabilities of militants operating in Kashmir.
Violence is likely to escalate in the coming days. Before the winter sets in and the fresh snowfall on the mountains closes the infiltration routes, more militants will try to sneak into the valley. This would inevitably mean more encounters between militants and the security personnel in the border areas.