Srinagar: The valley of Kashmir has been on the boil due to renewed armed insurgency against the Indian rule. The frequent gunfights in Kashmir, between security forces and militants, have left a trail of destruction.
In this year only, 102 militants have been killed in such gunfights. “This is the highest number of killings in the January-July period in seven years,” a police official said.
Earlier in 2010, the highest number of 156 militants were killed between January and July that year.
Last year, 77 militants were killed during this period, 51 each were killed in 2015 and 2014, respectively, 43 in 2013, 37 in 2012 and 61 in 2011, according to the police data.
The security forces also have prepared a hit-list of militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM).
The hunt for militants of various outfits has been intensified under an operational strategy, the official said.
Most of the gunfights in Kashmir have taken place in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Shopian and Anantnag districts while others have taken place in Bandipora and Kupwara in north Kashmir and Budgam in central Kashmir, the official pointed out.
Pulwama has been worst-hit where intense protests as well as strikes and shutdowns follow these gun battles.
Inspector General (IG) CRPF, Srinagar Ravideep Singh Sahi, claims that around 250 militants are active in Kashmir presently.
“Presently, there are around 250 militants active in Kashmir. The CRPF involvement was almost in every encounter or joint operations,” Sahi told media on the sidelines of function organized to commemorate anniversary of the force in Srinagar.
He said the number of active militants was going up and down in the valley. However, he said the situation was under control but fragile.
“We have seen reduction in stone pelting incidents from past few months and security forces are in well coordination with each other to carry out counter insurgency and anti-militancy operations in an organized manner,” he said.
IG also said that there were reports of few youth from Srinagar joining different militant ranks in past few months.
While the security agencies are claiming improvement in the situation, life has been pretty difficult for the victims whose houses have been destroyed in the gunfights in Kashmir.
The two decade old conflict in Kashmir has caused destruction of the public property at large scale besides the killings and bloodshed. There are hundreds of residential houses razed to ground during these fierce gun battles.
“I spent my life collecting the household items; my husband, who died three years earlier, worked from dawn to dusk to build a house for us. Everything got destroyed,” says a victim whose house was also destroyed in a gunfight between security forces and militants.
The victims whose houses are being damaged in these gunfights in Kashmir hardly see a government aid coming for their assistance. They are left to fend for themselves.
The compensation, if given by the government, according to victims is too meagre that it can not even bear the costs of a plinth of the house. Besides, the process of getting the relief amounts sanctioned is hectic and officials adopt delay tactics in getting the cases approved, victims allege.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Government of India has sanctioned a scheme in the year 2010 for assistance towards damaged immovable / movable property during action by Army in Jammu & Kashmir.
As per the scheme, the amount of relief will be to the extent of the total loss / damage assessed by the District Level Committee and subject to an upper ceiling of Rs. 10 lakhs. But the victims contradict the government claims, saying they get meagre amounts as compensation that too after much time consuming official procedure.
The locals also accuse the government of not sanitising the encounters sites and hence exposing them to the worst dangers.
A top government official off the record said that the process for approving the compensation amount takes time because of the lengthy procedure in vogue. He says the government could not pay any compensation to those who deliberately give shelter to victims in their houses.
“To ascertain whether the victim is a militant sympathiser or not, takes time. In cases where we find no fault of the owner of the house, compensation is given after completion of all formalities,” says the official while pleading anonymity because he is not authorised to speak over the issue.
However, the bloodshed and destruction continues unabated in the valley. And sadly, there seems no light at the end of the tunnel for the people of Kashmir.