By Ajai Shukla
Sharply contradicting the Indian Army’s claim that Pakistan-based militancy remains active and that cease-fire violations and infiltration take place as frequently as ever, the Jammu & Kashmir government’s count of violence in Kashmir indicates that militancy has dramatically declined.
J&K government figures obtained by Business Standard for the last three years, i.e. 2010-2012, conclusively show that on every important count, militancy has declined each year to half that of the previous year.
In 2010, the number of security force soldiers killed was 69; in 2011 that declined to 33; in 2012, it was 15. The number of civilians killed in 2010 was 164; in 2011, it was 40; and last year it was down to 24. The numbers of militants killed during those three years were 232, 100 and 72 ,respectively.
These figures are compiled by J&K government agencies on the basis of police records of each incident, which are by and large reliable. This declining trend is also corroborated by respected independent agencies like the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). According to SATP records, there were a total of 375 fatalities (security forces, militants and civilians) in 2010; this went down to 183 fatalities in 2011; and to 117 dead in 2012.
SATP compiles its figures from media reports, while the J&K government compiles its figures from police station records.
In contrast to this declining trend of violence, the army’s figures suggest a noticeable increase in militant activity on the Line of Control (LoC) over these three years, especially last year.
The Army Liaison Cell (ALC), which handles media relations for the army, tells Business Standard that there were 57 ceasefire violations in 2010; 61 in 2011; and 117 in 2012. This year, there have already been 14 violations. In 2010, 90 militants infiltrated into J&K across the LoC; this number declined to 55 in 2011, but increased dramatically to 120 last year.
Ajai Sahni, an expert on militancy and terrorism from the Institute for Conflict Management, is deeply sceptical about the army’s regular claims that militant infiltration is on the rise.
“The army’s infiltration figures are simply not credible. One set of figures contradict another and, most noticeably, these are in sharp variance with the overall trend of declining violence. When militant infiltration increases, so too should killings, arrests and violent incidents. Militants don’t infiltrate for fun,” says Sahni.
The army says the killing of two Indian soldiers near Poonch on January 8, and the mutilation of their bodies including the beheading of one, is an indicator of increased Pakistani activity on the LoC.
The J&K government figures also point to reduced militant activity on the LoC. The number of militant-initiated violent incidents has declined from 368 in 2010; to 195 in 2011; to just 124 last year. These incidents include grenade attacks, explosive devices, random firing, arms snatching and abduction.
Also pointing to declining militancy in J&K is the number of militants that surrendered to the government. In 2010, 20 militants laid down their arms and joined the mainstream; 19 did so in 2011, while just one militant surrendered last year.
“There are just about 150 militants active in J&K now. Naturally, surrenders are going to decline,” says a senior J&K Police officer.