After Lok Sabha Polls, counter-insurgency operations increase in Kashmir

counter-insurgency operations

Soon after the Lok Sabha elections were peacefully conducted in the Kashmir valley, the frequency of gunfights has increased and so has the number of militant deaths.

After the voting ended in the Kashmir valley on May 6 when Anantnag and Ladakh constituencies went to polls, the security forces have launched eight counter-insurgency operations from May 10. Six of the operations were successful in which 12 militants were killed. Two army jawans and two civilians (police said one was an associate of militants) were also killed during these gunfights. The surge in operations has coincided with the holy month of Ramazan which began on May 7.

There were two gunfights on Thursday and two more on Saturday.

In contrast, there were just four encounters between security forces and militants between April 11 when Kashmir’s Baramulla voted in the first phase and May 6 when the polls ended in the valley. Eight militants were killed in those four encounters.

“I agree there has been an increase in militancy related operations post elections, but it is all a part of ongoing counter-insurgency process. Operations happen because of credible intelligence inputs,” said a senior police officer of the state not wishing to be named.

“So far we have eliminated over 86 terrorists this year and there has been a decrease in the number of youth joining militancy to the extent that the rate of elimination is more now than the rate of recruitment,” he said.

Director General of Police Dilbag Singh had told a news conference on April 24 that they did not suspend the counter insurgency operations during the polls but acknowledged their focus was on the polls. “We were concentrating more on peacefully concluding the elections,” he had said.

By and large the polls across the valley remained relatively peaceful owing to the heavy presence of security forces and a three-phase election for Anantnag constituency in south Kashmir- the hotbed of militancy. Although the turnout remained low to very low, there was no large scale violence except for the killing of a teenaged civilian in pellet firing by security forces after voting ended at Mandigam village in Handwara area of Kupwara district on April 11.

A BJP leader Ghulam Mohammad Mir (60) in Nowgam area of South Kashmir’s Verinag was killed by suspected militants on May 4.

In contrast, the by-polls to Srinagar parliamentary constituency on April 9, 2017 had witnessed large scale protests in which eight people were killed in security forces firing and which also saw a mere 7 per cent voter turnout.

“The reasons for peaceful elections were many including well planned security measures, phased elections and community involvement. Nobody was coerced to vote and there were preventive arrests as well. To split Anantnag polling also helped,” the officer said.

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