May 2019 News

Centre Likely To Retain J&K Stance

26 May 2019
The Hindu
Vijaita Singh

New Delhi: During its previous stint, the BJP-led Union government wanted to involve the separatists in the Kashmir Valley in a dialogue process but on the condition that the latter acknowledged it publicly, a top government official told The Hindu. The official said that carrying out a dialogue behind the curtains was not going to bear any result. The talks could not fructify. With the return of the BJP to power, the Centre's policy in Kashmir is unlikely to see any major shift, security operations being its major component. J&K is currently under President's Rule. As many as 91 terrorists have been killed in 67 encounters this year. Officials also said that recruitment by terrorist groups had been the lowest since 2016, the year Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter. There was a spike in Kashmiri youth joining the militant ranks post-Wani's encounter. K. Vijay Kumar, J&K Governor's security adviser, told The Hindu that they were reaching out to people and due to their efforts the recruitments were at an all-time low. 'We are trying to turn around the situation. We don't arrest and remand everybody. If a youth has been involved in stone throwing, we don't immediately slap a case against him but engage with the community. Community elders, religious teachers and family members are made to stand as guarantors for the youth at the local police station. This acts as a deterrent,' Mr. Kumar said. He said that for every youth, 10-30 people were standing as guarantors and the community bond was effective. 'Five months into 2019, the recruitment is not more than 33. Last year, only in the month of April were there 30 recruitments and in the whole of last year, around 200 had joined,' a senior J&K police official said. Of the 33 recruited, four were arrested and three were weaned away from militancy through counselling and community participation, he added. In Pulwama and Kulgam, the recruitments were in single digit. The official said the number of civilians killed in encounters had also come down. There were 67 encounters in south Kashmir this year in which three civilians were killed. Last year, 24 civilians were killed during various encounters. 'With systematic planning of encounters and high-grade intelligence, we have been able to curtail the collateral damage. We are cautious that civilians are not affected,' the official said. He said the killing of Zakir Musa, chief of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar Ghazwat ul Hind (AGuH) group, will further bring down recruitment. 'Barring one [Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo], most of the vintage commanders have been eliminated. This will also impact the recruitment,' said the official.