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Kashmir on the path to recovery–No public property damaged after abrogation of Article 370

Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs Nityananad Rai informed the Parliament that no significant public property had been damaged in the Union Territory after abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A

Burning down of public properties and causing other damages to the government assets was routine in the militant-infested areas of the Kashmir valley since 1989. This has, however, come to an end in August 2019. No public property has been damaged in Jammu and Kashmir after abrogation of the Article 370 and 35-A.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Nityananad Rai informed the Parliament in reply to a question on Tuesday that no significant public property had been damaged in the Union Territory after abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A.

The Minister revealed that the incidents of arson and attack on the public property had almost ended as no significant damage to any public property had been reported after  August 5, 2019. He said that some loss to the tune of Rs 5.3 crore had been caused to private property.

The Minister said that 109 security forces personnel died in 98 militancy-related incidents between 5 August 2019 and January 2022 in the UT, even as 98 civilians also got killed in the militancy-related incidents during the same period of the last three-and-a-half years. The number of active militants killed in encounters with security forces during the same period was 439. In all, 541 militancy-related incidents took place during the same time.

According to official statistics, as many as 400 militants have been killed in different encounters and operations in the Kashmir valley from December 2019 to January 2022. Officials maintained that almost all the top commanders of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Hizbul Mujahideen were neutralised in the year 2021.

In the year 2021, 171 militants, 34 civilians and 29 Police and security forces personnel were reportedly killed. Twenty-two militants, including 8 Pakistani cadres, were killed in 12 encounters in the month of January 2022. One Policeman also died in an encounter.

The year 2021 in Kashmir witnessed 89 encounters. Of the 171 militants killed in these encounters, 150 were local and 21 foreigners.

Even as the counterinsurgency operations remained almost suspended due to the telecommunication shutdown for about four months after abrogation of Article 370 in the year 2019, the counterterrorist drive was stepped up from January 2020. Most of the security forces’ counterinsurgency operations were disrupted during the PDP-BJP coalition from March 2015 to the dismissal of Mehbooba Mufti’s government on 18 June 2018.

It became routine for the militant sympathisers to mount attacks with stones, brickbats and clubs on the Police and security forces in all the operations so as to help the holed up militants escape. Dozens of such operations failed and the militants succeeded to escape from the cordoned areas with the help of the mob attacks on the forces from outside. A number of the Police and security forces vehicles and camps were damaged in such attacks.

This trend continued, albeit at a lower scale from June 2018 to August 2019. However, all such mob attacks subsided and there were no major stone pelting attacks on the Police or forces’ vehicles and camps after August 2019. The Lieutenant Governor’s administration tightened the noose on such saboteurs with arrests and detentions. The decision of not returning the dead bodies of the neutralised militants to their families and thus ending the culture of funeral processions and gun salutes to the militants also helped in restoration of tranquillity.

With the number of the active militants dipping to around 100—the lowest in the last 6 years—in January 2022, the crackdown has now shifted to social media.

Officials insist that the 5th Generation Warfare, or the battle of narratives, is the “last vehicle” of the militancy and separatism in Jammu and Kashmir. A section of the local media-persons believes that the recent developments with regard to suspension of the Kashmir Press Club were also part of the government’s strategy to gain control over the virtual and the social media domain.

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