The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Suicide strikes unabated

Jammu, Dec. 2: The statistics on militancy-related violence for November should ring alarm bells for the new Jammu and Kashmir government.

Civilian and security force casualties have jumped and the militant death count has perceptibly declined. Compared with 73 civilians killed last month, only 47 died last November.

Casualties in the security forces increased by more than four from last year’s 36 in the corresponding period. And 58 militants were killed this time compared with 87 the year before.

Normally, violence takes a dip with the temperature between November and March. This could be attributed to low infiltration during this period.

Militants also move to the plains from the mountains, giving the forces an edge. During winters, the maize crop that often serves as a cover for militants is also not there. Yet, more than six suicide attacks have occurred in November. The spate began with the attack on the Srinagar CRPF camp on November 22, followed by the Raghunath temple and Shiva temple attacks in Jammu two days later.

Yesterday, three such attacks were reported — two in Doda district and one in Baramullah district’s Sopore.

Statistics, however, are not the real barometer of the situation. The figures reflect more the varying strategic patterns of the militants. The one clear message the attacks have conveyed is Lashkar-e-Toiba’s persistence with violence.

The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government’s rise to power has apparently made no difference to Pakistan-based militant outfits. The government’s move of releasing militants, too, has failed to impress them.

The groups are keen to show that they will be as unkind to the Mufti government, sworn in under the Indian Constitution, as they were to previous regimes.

Kashmir, they believe, is the springboard to spread a pan-Islamic movement in South Asia. Hence the attacks.

“There will be no let up in our operations,” Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s Pakistan-based spokesman Salim Hashmi had said after the new government in Jammu and Kashmir was sworn in on November 2. He wasechoing his supreme commander Syed Salaha-ud-Din.

The Lashkar has already proclaimed its plan to intensify attacks. Barring the temple attacks, its avowed intention has translated into violence against security forces.

Coupled with the statistics, the attacks show the Mufti government may have a rough ride ahead.

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