Protests and violence in Jammu and Kashmir have so far claimed the lives of 47 civilians besides 245 militants and 90 security personnel this year. The year 2018 is also turning out to be one of the bloodiest since 2014, as 587 incidents of violence were reported till December 2 compared to 342 in 2017 and 322 in 2016, according to data available with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
In its annual report for 2017-18, the MHA noted, “Civilian deaths in Jammu and Kashmir rose by a staggering 167% as compared to 2016.”
According to the data, from 2014 to December this year, there have been 1,681 militancy-related incidents in which 826 militants were killed, while 119 civilians and 334 security personnel lost their lives during this period.
Documents at MHA also note: “The rise in number of civilian deaths in the Valley is due to change in Pakistan’s tactics following a strategy of superimposition of militancy over civil resistance through radicalisation by vested interest group and social media.”
The spike in killings of militants and civilians was registered since June this year. Out of 245 militants killed this year, nearly 170 were killed since June.
As many as 36 people were killed in the Valley this year by unknown gunmen on the suspicion that they were over-ground workers of militants or informers for police, Army or political groups. Journalist and editor of Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari was killed by unidentified gunmen in June this year. The police later claimed that the killers were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
“Although the violence in J&K is not on the same scale as in the 1990s or early 2000s, militancy-related incidents have been increasing after 2014,” said a senior official at North Block. As per the data, 2001 was most volatile, when maximum number of militants and security personnel were killed. While 2,020 militants were gunned down, 536 security personnel and 919 civilians were killed that year, registering 4,522 militancy-related incidents. In terms of civilian casualties, 1996 was the worst, with 1,336 civilians death.
Security agencies admitted that the number of militants killed this year is the highest in the past decade. “We have been urging locals not to throng encounter sites, and despite declaring the area as no-go zone, women and youths turn up, risking their lives,” a home ministry official said.