Valley's 20-year low: less than 1000 attacks

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By MUZAFFAR RAINA in Srinagar
  • Published 25.12.08
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Srinagar, Dec. 25: Police have said incidents of terrorist violence and the number of active militants in Jammu and Kashmir have both fallen below 1,000 for the first time in nearly two decades.

The number of civilian casualties has been calculated to be below 100 till December 23, another low in over a decade.

Kuldeep Khoda, the state police chief, said incidents of militant attacks had come down below the four-digit figure — for the first time in two decades — to 708. “There was a phenomenal drop… in militancy-related incidents compared with last year (1,092). The highest number of such incidents was witnessed in 1995 when the number was 5,946,” he said.

“The number of militants operating in the state has fallen below 1,000 for the first time. It is 808, including 577 locals and 231 foreign militants,” Khoda added.

The casualty count of 524 — 350 militants, 85 security and police personnel and 89 civilians — is a significant drop from 1,413 in 1996. Last year, 770 people were killed. The dead included 122 security personnel and 404 militants. The rest were civilians.

Most of the militants active in the state now are from four groups — the Hizb-ul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al Badr.

The figures were announced a day after the state finished voting in one of its longest Assembly elections and saw a turnout of over 60 per cent, the highest in nearly two decades.

Violence during elections was also reported to be minimal. Twelve civilians died against 220 in the 2002 polls. No political office-bearer was killed this time, compared with 48 deaths last time. The number of casualties among security personnel also fell from 148 in 2002 to just five.

The United Jihad Council, an alliance of Kashmiri militant outfits, had pledged to keep away from violence during the polls. Police officials privately admitted that the council had kept its word. The Hizb, Lashkar, Jaish and Al Badr are not part of the council.

The official figures, however, concealed that 2008 was one of the most turbulent years in decades for Jammu and Kashmir because of the Amarnath land row. The Valley lost months in strikes and curfews after violence erupted in June.

“Around 63 people lost their lives in Kashmir (including two in the Muslim-majority Kishtwar district of Jammu) in firing by security forces during the agitation,” said Adil Nazir, an official of the human rights group Coalition of Civil Society.

“There was a slight decline in custodial killings and disappearances,” Nazir said.

The police chief said there was one custodial death this year.