Srinagar: Despite the government reiterating many times that local militants should not be killed, government forces have done completely the opposite by killing 41 local militants this year. The bulk of the local militants killed, 26 of them, have been killed between June 2 and July 17, indicating that the security grid has launched an all-out offensive against Kashmiri militants.
Since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July last year, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has urged the police several times to “try to bring back to mainstream the youths who have fled their homes to join militancy, instead of killing them in encounters.”
When asked if the government or the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not sticking to its policy of not killing local militants, chief spokesman for the PDP, Mehboob Beg, said, “The party and the government abide by the stand that local militants should not be killed. But the guns should fall silent to create such an atmosphere.”
Asked if the government has initiated any process where the forces have been told to not kill local militants, Beg said that there has been a change in the strategy to tackle militancy. “The situation currently is quite serious,” Beigh said. “We have to understand that we are losing our future generation to violence. Everybody, irrespective of ideology, should come forward to stop our youngsters from getting killed. The separatists should also rethink and issue an appeal to youngsters to not follow violence.”
Information Minister Zulfiqar Chowdhry refused to comment on the issue. He said, “Naeem Akhtar sahib is the government spokesman. He can speak on the issue.”
Despite repeated calls, Akhtar did not pick up the phone.
The New Delhi-based media has been reporting that the army has started an all-out operation to end militancy in Kashmir. The police have already declared the year 2017 as aimed at “terrorism-free Kashmir”.
Sources in the government said that the BJP-led government has asked the state government to focus on infrastructure and development works, and let the army and other security agencies deal with militancy.
“She (Mehbooba) has almost no hold on security operations. They are being supervised by the army and the central government,” a government official said. “To kill or not to kill militants is the discretion of security agencies.”
BJP state general secretary Ashok Kaul said that he had no idea whether or not the government had opened any channels to talk with local militants.
“One thing should be clear: the person who will pick up the gun will be dealt with the gun,” Kaul said. “I appeal to all those youngsters to return to the mainstream and live a normal life. The government will rehabilitate them.”
On July 13, Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, had said that the only solution to the Kashmir problem was the wiping out of militancy from the state.
“Other than this, there is no other option,” Singh said. “The long-drawn phase of militancy will end soon,” Singh assured.
According to the government, following the killing of Burhan Wani a total of 88 Kashmiri youths joined militancy in 2016, the highest in the past six years. Infiltration bids almost tripled last year as compared to 2015. Till March 21 this year, the government has said, as many as 104 local youths joined militancy.
Political analyst Noor Ahmad Baba said the statements of the state government cannot be taken seriously on the matter of militancy. “The local government has almost no say in dealing with security issues,” Baba said. “The unified high command may be headed by the chief minister but it would be a rare event for the chief minister to prevail upon the army or other security agencies on the matter of militancy. The unified command has always been above the state government. It is always the Union home ministry and defence ministry which dictates security policies in Kashmir.”