Srinagar, April 04: On Sunday, when an army general, to mark the killing of thirteen militants, told the media that it was a special day, it was perhaps for the first time in the last nearly twenty years of armed insurgency that so many Kashmiri men had been killed in a single day of violence in the Kashmir valley.
The thirteen Hizbul Mujahideen fighters were shot dead in three different shootouts in Shopian and Anantnag on Sunday fuelling widespread protests in Kashmir that have led to four deaths and injuries to more than two hundred people.
Seven years back eight militants had been killed by the government forces in the Chenab valley of Jammu that was nowhere as close the last Sunday’s bloodshed. The Chenab valley encounter, according to records, took place on 8 November 2011 in Doda and Poonch in Jammu. All the militants, who were natives of the place, belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashker-e-Toiba. “All the eight were killed in two separate counter-insurgency operations. They were top and key members of outfits,” said a senior officer of the security establishment. “From that very day militancy in Chinab valley went all time low.”
In was in 2011 again that 17 militants were killed in about seven day long gunfight in Drayengyari- Hafruda forests of Kupwara. Eight Indian army men were also shot dead by the guerrillas in the shootout that went on for seven days in the forests of Hafruda, in Kupwara. It was assumed that most of the guerrillas were from Pakistan. A few months later13 more fighters were killed in a five day long gun battle in the Kangan area of Kashmir in which an army man also died. Again all of them were believed to be from Pakistan.
On 20 August 2011, 12 militants, again from Pakistan, and an Indian army officer were killed in a fierce gunfight close to the Line of Control, in the Bandipora district.
The feeling among the top security officials of the state is that the killing of thirteen militants might somehow deter more Kashmiri youngsters from taking up arms against the government. Whether that would happen remains to be seen. But if the past is any evidence, the death of a militant only encourages more to take up arms.