No Safe Zones, Forces Set To Intensify Hot Pursuit Of Militants

The PDP-BJP government in J&K believes that hot pursuit of militants, roaming mostly in the hinterlands of south Kashmir, is part of the final solution to this protracted conflict that’s dogging the Valley.

The state, which has recorded over 170 killings in the first half of this year, including 97 militants, 39 army, paramilitary and police personnel and 35 civilians, continues to mark at least one killing almost every day.

And if a senior BJP functionary and some state police officials are to be believed, the operations against the militants and their sympathisers are likely to increase after the President’s election on July 17, with New Delhi’s renewed focus on the state.

The recent attack on a highway in Botengo area of Anantnag in south Kashmir in which eight Amarnath yatris were killed, has a given another ‘reason’ to act tough and go after the armed non-state actors, said sources in the police, adding that operations will escalate once the yatra ends in the first week of August.

“The military and operational engagement in south Kashmir for the past two months is less fearful of reprisals, not divided in priorities, and most importantly, keen on taking risks, where collateral damage cannot be a deterrent. Otherwise you would not see a cordon happening in a village only a day after the encounter,” a senior police official told ET.

In this month alone, 14 militants were killed. Most of the famous commanders of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba, which includes Sabzar, Junaid Matoo, BashirLaskhkari, and Majid were killed in the past two months. This year, according to police statistics, 58 youngsters joined the militant ranks till now, out of which 45 were from south Kashmir. Five of them have already been killed and seven arrested.

The operations against the militants, who enjoy the support of locals, risk further deepening of the divide between the pro-India politicians and people. This would also undermine any political process, more so in south Kashmir, the home of CM Mehbooba Mufti.

However, latent stability in the PDPBJP government despite a series of overt contradictions in a volatile atmosphere suggests that the alliance partners have an understanding and share a common wisdom about alliance management to complete a six-year term, which for many in and outside the state, was a mirage.

“After Presidential Order on GST, we have been reassured about Agenda of Alliance (the working document between the two parties),” a senior PDP minister told ET. He blames the incapacity of the state administration to use the funds and ‘bad situation’ on the ground for all problems the state faces right now.

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