J&K: Data punctures Centre's claim that dilution of Art 370 reduced conflict

Kashmir Times. Dated: 8/4/2020 10:39:33 AM

229 killings in 107 incidents in first six months of this year

SRINAGAR, Aug 3(Agencies): Despite the Central government’s claim that the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status would usher in a “new era of dawn” in the region, a report by human rights organisation Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has shown that even one year after that move, there has been no let-up in conflict.
In its biannual report about the human rights situation in the region, JKCCS has revealed that Kashmir saw 229 killings in 107 incidents of violence during first six months of this year, besides an uptick in the destruction of residential properties during gunfights between security forces and militants.
The BJP government had taken the unilateral decision to dilute Article 370, asserting the move would “end militancy” in Kashmir and bring “peace” to the region, claiming the constitutional provision of special status to J&K was “strengthening separatist narrative” in the Valley.
The report has, however, laid bare the ground realities and punctured the government’s peace claims. With uncertainty about the future of the situation in Kashmir only growing by the day, the violence which has gripped Kashmir for the past three decades appears far from over.
An analysis of data provided by JKCCS also shows that while the number of killings reported in the first half of 2020 is lower than the previous two years, when seen together with reports of increased destruction of civilian property and more violations of ceasefire at the border with Pakistan, there can be no denial of heightened conflict.
Data from the past decade also shows that the violence reached a trough in 2012, when 143 killings were reported in the entire year and has been escalating ever since. In fact, the number of killings reported during the first six months of 2020 is much higher than the total number of killings that were reported by JKCCS in five years of the previous decade (2011-2015).
The first six months of 2020 has seen the highest number of militant killings, 143, compared, to 120 in the corresponding period in 2019 and 108 in 2018.
But at the same time, the trend of educated youngsters joining the militancy has continued. A senior police official, quoting intelligence inputs, told The Wire that around 85-95 youngsters have joined the militant ranks from January 1 to July 30 this year. Last year, as per the official figures, around 141 youth had picked up arms.
In June this year, a PhD scholar from the Bemina locality of Srinagar, Hilal Ahmad Dar, who had gone trekking with his friends, went missing. After days of search, the police finally confirmed that he had joined militancy.
Similarly, videos have emerged on social media in which two families from Kupwara and Bandipora districts appeal to their “missing” sons to return home. In the past, such appeals have ended with the youth joining militancy. Recently, a 48-year-old man and father of a slain militant from Tral town of south Kashmir joined the militancy.
“Every single argument that the government had given for diluting Article 370 has proven to be false,” said Ajay Sahni, executive director of New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management.
He said the data shows that conflict continues in Kashmir, as does recruitment by militants, despite the constant success of the security forces during counterinsurgency operations.
“We’re not seeing any relief a common man would expect, largely because the political processes have been broken down. Today, anyone in Kashmir who has a grievance is left with only two choices either shut himself in his home or join the militancy,” Sahni claimed.
Ever since the abrogation of J&K’s special status, both the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) have witnessed an escalation in ceasefire violations.
From January to June this year, around 2,319 ceasefire violations have been recorded, almost double the number of violations recorded during the corresponding period last year (1,309).
In 2019, a total of 3,200 ceasefire violations took place, compared to 1640 in 2018 and 860 the year before.
On the other hand, from January 1 to June 30, at least 107 cordon and search operations (CASOs) have been carried out by the security forces across J&K.
The 26-page JKCCS report highlights a rise in the destruction of civilian properties, including residential houses, by the security forces during encounters or while dealing with protestors.
At least 48 residential houses were destroyed between January 1 and June 30, most of them during the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, rendering many families homeless.
In comparison, only 20 civilian properties were destroyed during the first half of 2019, as per the data provided by JKCCS.



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