With the killing of four militants on Sunday in different encounters in south Kashmir and Srinagar, the number of militants killed this year has reached 100. At the same time, this year Kashmir is also witnessing a record number of tourists. After the lockdown and siege imposed in the wake of the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, and two years of Covid restrictions, nearly half a million tourists have visited the Valley this year so far. In March alone, according to the government officials, around 2 lakh tourists visited the Valley. All the hotels across Kashmir are running full and the tourism boom has helped the economy to recover losses of three years.
Of 100 militants killed this year, 71 were local Kashmiris and 29 were foreigners. These militants, as per the police, were killed in different encounters this year. In the same period last year, 50 militants, including 49 local Kashmiris and one foreigner were killed.
And yet, there is no talk of holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Even after the delimitation commission has given its final report, the government and the Election Commission of India have not talked about holding polls in J&K or restoration of statehood to J&K. Jammu and Kashmir is without an elected government since June 2018, when the BJP withdrew its support from Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government.
In the past five months, hundreds of people including some prominent journalists have been arrested in the Valley and booked under preventive detention law, the Public Safety Act. While the government is in complete control of the situation with no one daring to hold protests or give a strike call or write a critical post on social media, the government has been facing a challenge in the recent attacks on minority migrant employees posted in Kashmir. The attacks have led to a series of protests from Kashmiri pandits, who want to transfer from the Valley to a “safer place” other than Kashmir Valley.
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While political analysts and regional political leaders say the situation in Kashmir is alarming, the BJP seems happy with current arrangements. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Mehbooba Mufti says the “muscular” and “repressive” policies of the BJP government have resulted in the deterioration of the situation in Kashmir. “Instead of the situation getting better, it has worsened due to the muscular and repressive policies of the central government,” the former Chief Minister says.
The centre-led government is often seen claiming that everything has improved in J&K, but nothing of such has happened. “The BJP government is looking at the J&K issue through a security and religious angle, thus being inconsiderate to the killings of the people here,” she says.
Senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh told Outlook that the situation has drastically improved in Kashmir in past few years. “I was in the Valley for three days recently and I found the huge rush of tourists,” he says. “There are no incidents of stone-throwing and no one gives strike calls and no one observes them. It is true that targeted attacks are taking place on nationalist forces whether Muslims and Hindus but they will not succeed in derailing J&K’s march towards peace,” he says.
In this package, we analyze recent targeted attacks on minority groups, the security implications of such attacks and the stand of political leaders.