As Militancy Ebbs, Time To Ease Up In J&K?2 March 2011
Times of India
New Delhi: An unprecedented drop in all parameters of militancy in Kashmir is leading to many of government's own Kashmir observers calling for a radically different security approach and bold political decisions. The call comes amid fears of violent street protests re-erupting because of various factors, including security blunders and inspiration from Arab revolutions. This year, January recorded the lowest figure in every parameter used to assess militancy since it started over two decades ago, according to sources in J&K police and various agencies. They measure about a dozen parameters, such as the number of civilians, security forces and terrorists killed and injured, as well as the total number of violent incidents. In January, each of these parameters is the lowest in over two decades of Kashmir insurgency. Jammu and Kashmir has become a 'state with very marginal militancy and a significant level of law and order concerns', a senior officer said, suggesting that New Delhi will have to take a relook at the imposing and intense security deployment in J&K. Violent public protests, most predominant form of violence in the state now, are erupting every time the security agencies make a blunder, he said. 'So, it is wise to thin them down, not just as a confidence building measure,' he argued. January saw just 14 incidents of violence, of which the worst was two instances of grenade hurling. In previous years, the lowest number of incidents in January was in 2009 when there were 23 attacks, otherwise in January 2003, there were 268 incidents. Even in the 14 incidents this January, just two have been against security forces. For the first time in over two decades of militancy, the security forces did not kill a single militant in a month, in yet another sign of a significant drop in militancy. 'The gaps in our intelligence gathering are being exposed now,' an officer said, pointing to recent cases of mistaken encounters in which innocents were gunned down. Another senior officer said the Centre should think about immediate thinning down of security forces. 'We haven't had such favourable conditions,' he said. The officer pointed out that New Delhi should look at bold political initiatives to seize the momentum created by the security forces. More than one officer believes that violent street protests could come back in the summer if New Delhi didn't seize the momentum in its favour.