Ever since militancy erupted in the late 1980s, this is the first time more security forces personnel lost their lives than militants in Kashmir.
During the first three months of 2019 at least 162 people including civilians, security forces and militants were killed in various incidents of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, according to a report released by local-rights group, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS).
With 586 killings recorded, 2018 was the deadliest year for the state in a decade. In comparison to the first three months of 2018, which witnessed 119 killings, the reports reveals that the number of killings have significantly increased in the first three months of 2019.
In January – 2 civilians, 17 militants and 8 security forces personnel were killed, In February – 5 civilians, 22 militants and 60 security forces personnel were killed and in March – 14 civilians, 19 militants and 15 security forces personnel lost their lives.
Ever since militancy erupted in the late 1980s in Kashmir, this is the first time more security forces personnel lost their lives than militants, according to the report. Of the 162 killings, the report says, there were 21 civilians, 58 militants and 83 security forces personnel including army soldiers, CRPF personnel and policemen.
Among the 83 killings, security forces personnel suffered the highest causalities (65) during counter-insurgency related incidents, including in a suicide attack by a Kashmiri militant on a paramilitary convoy in Pulwama on February 14, which claimed the lives 48 CRPF personnel, says the report.
Following the Pulwama suicide attack, five separate gun battles between militants and security forces resulted in the death of 12 militants – mostly of Jaish-e- Muhammad (JeM) – and 12 security forces personnel. In one more separate incident, while defusing an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), an army major lost his life in Rajouri on February 17.
Timeline of the five encounters following the Pulwama suicide attack
After JeM claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack, security forces had made the militant outfit their priority.
In an encounter between security forces and JeM in Pinglena village of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 18, four soldiers including an army major, three militants, one cop and one civilian were killed.
Two JeM militants were killed in the 20-hour-long gun battle with security forces on February 22 in Warpora area of Sopore in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Just two days after the Sopore encounter, besides three JeM militants, a deputy superintendent of police and an army jawan were killed in an encounter in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
On February 27, two more JeM militants were killed by security forces in an encounter in Shopian district of South Kashmir.
The 72-hour-long gun battle, which broke out on February 28 between security forces and militants at Baba Gund village of Handwara in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, resulted in the death of two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants, one civilian and five security forces including three CRPF Personnel and two policemen.
Out of the remaining security forces, the reports says, six were killed at the Line of Control (LOC), seven committed suicide, three CRPF personnel were killed in a fratricidal incident by a CRPF trooper in Udhampur district of Jammu and two Special Police Officers (SPO) of Jammu Kashmir Police were killed by suspected militants.
The list of civilian killings compiled by JKCCS mentions the two civilians were killed by security forces following encounters with militants, and one 28-year-old youth was killed due to the torture inflicted on him by government forces during his detention at Cargo, an infamous torture centre in Srinagar.
“The killing of civilians accused of being army informers by armed gunmen points to the ways the unresolved conflict in Jammu and Kashmir is inevitably endangering the lives of the civilian population,” the report says. “Among the 21 civilian casualties, three were minors including twelve-year-old Atif Mir, who was first held hostage by militants at his house in Hajan Bandipora and later was killed when armed forces blasted the very house where he was held hostage.”
The report put the Pulwama attack at the top of list with 8 civilian fatalities, in the first quarter of 2019, followed by Poonch (3), Baramulla (2), Kupwara (2), Jammu (2), Anantnag (1), Bandipora (1), Shopian (1). One non-local person was also was killed in an explosion.
Besides, the report also cites that in the first quarter of 2019, the valley has witnessed at least 89 Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs), 23 internet shutdowns, at least 42 incidents of attacks on Kashmiris across India and 25 people booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
“The 89 CASO’s have resulted in the killing of at least 58 militants, three civilians and destruction of at least 18 civilian properties including 15 residential houses and 3 cowsheds. A majority of these CASO’s were conducted in four south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam,” says the report.