The precarious security situation has forced the Election Commission of India (ECI) to cancel the Anantnag by-polls as the South Kashmir has emerged as a hot bed of militancy in the recent months.
What is really keeping the security agencies on toes is an increasing number of people crowding around the encounter sites to help the militants escape from the cordon of the forces.
The situation has further got aggravated as students protested at the degree college Pulwama and lost no time in attacking the army vehicle as it tried to enter the college premises last month as the local armed force personnel had come up with an idea to hold a seminar and painting competition there.
In a visit to Pulwama last Thursday entire market remained shut and there was heavy deployment of police personnel on the roads as the local youth had resorted to heavy stone pelting on them.
In South Kashmir the election activity had particularly remained subdued as the political parties couldn’t carry out campaigning in the wake of hostile security scenario.
Local residents of Pulwama said that the government forces are committing excesses on them due to which the youth have no option but to hit the streets.
“The forces even check our mobile phones at our houses to ascertain that whether there is any video of militants loaded in the device,’’ said a woman teacher at degree college, Pulwama, wishing not to be named, for fear of reprisal from the forces.
However, it is not only Pulwama that has seen skirmishes between forces and local people, other districts including Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag have also seen widespread protests.
A security official said that a large number of youth have joined militancy from South Kashmir after the uprising that had started last year following the killing of HM militant commander, Burhan Muzafar Wani.
“It is due to the heavy forest cover in the South Kashmir particularly Tral that the local boys who snatch the weapons carry out the training here only. Not many boys are now crossing the border for weapons training,’’ said a top security official.
As per the government figures, while 66 youth had joined militancy in 2015, the number was 88 in 2016. The increase in the number is attributed to the unrest that had started after July last year, with most of the youth joining militant ranks from the South Kashmir areas only.
Special Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), S N Srivastava, however said that the “youth are being incited by Pakistan to ensure that the situation doesn’t improve here in Kashmir.’’