90% dip in stone-pelting incidents 'thanks to the Kashmiri people'
2017 seems to have brought a new lease of life to Kashmir. Stone-pelting incidents have come down by as much as 90%, says J&K DGP SP Vaid. Last year, 40-50 such incidents a day were normal; now a week goes by without a single case, he said. Vaid claims there are several factors at play, but credits mainly the Kashmiri people for their determination.
Burhan Wani's death and last year's unrest
Last year was one of the most violent in Kashmir's history. The uprising was triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July'16. Following his death, protestors took to the streets in thousands, blocked roads, pelted stones at security personnel and damaged property. Shutdowns continued on and off till February'17. Over 100 died and 15,000 were injured, including civilians and personnel.
Anti-terror fight intensified but civilian stone-pelting dropped drastically
This year has seen increased violence related to the anti-terror fight. According to reports, there were 25 encounters during December'16-June'17. Forty-two militants and nine civilians were killed. In 26 terrorist attacks during the same period, 20 security personnel and 15 civilians died. But according to Vaid, things are much calmer regarding the Kashmiri people with 90% fewer stone-pelting incidents.
A combination of several factors helped, says J&K police chief
An important factor is NIA's raids to drive out terrorists, Vaid says. Moreover, security forces neutralized several top terrorist commanders with "very good coordination among police, army and other agencies". Demonetization helped cut funds to terrorists. Resumption of political activity played some role too. But "the main credit goes to the people of Kashmir" who have realized the futility of violence, Vaid said.
Will peace finally prevail in Kashmir?
Forces have neutralized 170 terrorists in Kashmir this year, Vaid claims, including top ones like LeT's Abu Dujana, Bashir Wani and Abu Ismail; Hizbul's Sabzar Bhat; JeM chief Masood Azhar's nephew Talha Rasheed, and Abu Khalid. The Centre's interlocutor is now initiating dialogue with stakeholders in Kashmir. The administration seems determined to bring peace to Kashmir, with some help from the locals.