Amid calls for amnesty, a battle against militancy in Kashmir

Govt decides to withdraw cases against stone throwers, launches ‘Operation All-out’

As the year comes to an end, it will be remembered for the government’s hard and soft approach towards militancy in the Valley. Among calls for amnesty, the Valley saw the highest number of militant and civilian casualties in anti-militancy operations in the past four years.
With the killing of 210 militants, most of them in the Valley’s hinterland, the security agencies hoped that ‘Operation All-out’ against the ultras would push militancy to its brink.
During anti-insurgency operations, security forces killed operational chiefs of all militant outfits, but Zakir Musa, the operational chief of the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind — the self-claimed offshoot of the Al-Qaeda in Kashmir, survived the onslaught.
Going after the top commanders, who the police believed were responsible for reviving militancy in Kashmir, the security forces managed to kill the longest-surviving local militants — Qayoom Najar, Yasin Itoo, Noor Trali and Bashir Lashkari. They also killed the mastermind of the Amarnath yatra attack in south Kashmir, Abu Ismail, two nephews of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Lashkar-e-Toiba operational chiefs Abu Dujana and Mehmood Bhai in a series of counter-insurgency operations across Kashmir.
The killing of 210 militants, which was the highest in the past four years, however, came at a cost. Over 40 civilians were also killed this year during anti-militancy operations by security forces.
While the security forces followed the ‘iron-fist’ policy for the militants, they also adopted the ‘velvet glove’ approach while dealing with civilians and new local recruits in militant ranks.
At least five local militants surrendered before security forces, prominent among them footballer-turned-LeT militant Majid Khan.
Security agencies believed Majid Khan’s return was a major success as they feared he would have become another poster boy of militancy like slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Taking a softer approach, the state government recently decided to withdraw cases against first-time stone throwers.
With violence in Valley seeing no end, the Centre responded with the appointment of a special representative for Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, to initiate dialogue with all stakeholders in the state.
Against the backdrop of ‘Operation All-out’, an increased number of local youths joined militant ranks this year. Over 120 local youths from various districts of Kashmir joined militancy, keeping the number of active militants static despite a large number of them being killed in encounters with security forces. The militants also hit back killing around 30 policemen this year, which is the highest in the last two decades. Besides, six political workers and four bank guards were also killed by militants this year.
At the year is coming to a close, the number of militants remains the same, nearly 200, as it was in January when security forces launched ‘Operation All-out’.

Longest-surviving ultras killed

Going after the top commanders, who the police believed were responsible for reviving militancy in Kashmir, the security forces managed to kill the longest-surviving local militants — Qayoom Najar, Yasin Itoo, Noor Trali and Bashir Lashkari. They also killed the mastermind of the Amarnath yatra attack in south Kashmir, Abu Ismail, two nephews of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Lashkar-e-Toiba operational chiefs Abu Dujana and Mehmood Bhai in a series of counter-insurgency operations across Kashmir.

More youth join militancy

Against the backdrop of ‘Operation All-out’ by security forces, an increased number of local youths joined militant ranks this year. Over 120 youths from various districts of Kashmir joined militancy, keeping the number of active militants static despite a large number of them being killed in encounters with security forces.

2017: An eventful year

January 8: After decades of delays, Centre clears construction of Sawlakote and Kirthai hydropower projects over the Chenab at a cost of Rs 27,500 crore.
January 10: Government report says five-month Valley unrest in 2016 inflicted Rs 16,000-crore losses
January 14: J&K orders 33 per cent reservation for women for sarpanch seats
January 19: For the first time in 27 years, the Legislative Assembly calls for return of the Pandits to Kashmir. Assembly adopts unanimous resolution.
February 15: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat warns tough action against stone throwers in J&K.
February 17: Almost a revolt in the PDP after Minister for Revenue Basharat Bukhari and Minister for IT Imran Raza Ansari resign after CM Mehbooba Mufti conducts a reshuffle of portfolios.
March 4: The J&K and Punjab governments reach a historic agreement on the Shahpur-Kandi project.
March 22: Home Minister Rajnath Singh announces in the Rajya Sabha about New Delhi’s intention to talk with all stakeholders in J&K.
April 2: PM Modi addresses a rally at Udhampur.
April 9: 2% turnout in Srinagar Lok Sabha bypoll.
May 1: Five policemen and two bank officials killed by militants in Kulgam district.
May 2: The Election Commission cancels May 25 Anantnag Lok Sabha bypoll, citing Valley unrest.
May 10: Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz abducted and shot dead by militants in Shopian district.
June 4: The NIA conducts raids in Jammu and Srinagar to unearth hawala funding to separatists.
June 23: DSP Ayub Pandith lynched by a mob near Jamia Masjid in Srinagar on Shab-e-Qadr.
June 26: The US designates Syed Salahuddin, the head of Hizbul Mujahideen, a global terrorist.
July 5: The Legislative Assembly adopts a resolution for implementing the goods and services tax in J&K through a Presidential Order.
July 10: Terrorists attack a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims from Gujarat, killing seven of them.
August 1: Most-wanted Lashkar-e-Toiba militant Abu Dujana killed by security forces.
September 16: Pakistan shells civilian areas along the border in the Jammu region.
October 23: Centre appoints Dineshwar Sharma as its special representative for dialogue on J&K.
November 1: Syed Shahid Yousuf, son of globally wanted terrorist Syed Salahuddin, sent to judicial custody by a Delhi court in a 2011 terror funding case.
November 22: Mehbooba Mufti announces withdrawal of FIRs against first-time stone throwers.
December 5: It was revealed that Dineshwar Sharma met former Hurriyat Conference chairman Abdul Gani Bhat during his visit to Kashmir.
December 20: Centre says no proposal to abolish Articles 35A and 370 from J&K.
December 23: Major, three jawans martyred in heavy firing by Pakistan in Rajouri.
December 28: Tassaduq Mufti, brother of Mehbooba Mufti, inducted into the Cabinet.