2017 has passed off and we are in 2018 and grew a year older. For Jammu and Kashmir in many ways the year was very crucial with some major political and security developments though fortunately no such big ugly event unfolded like in 2016 when the top militant Commander Burhan Muzaffer Wani got killed. His killing triggered the massive unrest and shattered Kashmir economically after remained locked for over six months and resulted into over 70 killings. On that front the year 2017 was relatively better and more peaceful. However, it witnessed the highest number of encounters and militant killings.
As many as 210 militants got killed during the year of which 90 were local boys who had joined the militant ranks in last several years, the highest in last eight years. This was an outcome of operation all out launched by army and put 268 militants on radar. From security point of view it was major success. But going by the facts, it has two things to ponder about. The government of India shall review the security grid alongside the Line of Control which makes it possible for foreign militants to sneak into valley although the fool proof security measures are in place.
Secondly for the lasting peace in valley, the killing of local militants is detrimental and gives rise to the local militancy. This trend of killings can only be celebrated by theses security forces but politically there is a need to redefine the mechanism and work out on areas to motivate the youth for not joining armed struggle.
As evidently found every militant killing is prompting another youth of the same area to join the same path, that is alarming. The fragile peace in the valley is always in jeopardize owing to rising residual militancy. The recently appointment of interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma is a hope here. His appointment as a dialogue man from New Delhi to reach out to the estranged section of people here can be utilized as an opportunity to set the precedence for major dialogue.
The opportunity of this time shall be seized by New Delhi and work on seriously on the recommendations of interlocutor unlike in past which has instead of bridging the gap substantially created trust deficit between the leadership in New Delhi and Kashmir. Sharma shall also work on creating the good offices in all the sections of people in Kashmir and especially try to reach out to the separatists who so far have denied entering into any dialogue that sans neighbouring country Pakistan. The meaningful dialogue in Kashmir can be only possible once Sharma manages to break the ice with separatists and bring them on negotiating table.
The efforts initially put by New Delhi’s point man and reaching out to one separatist leader at his residence during his last visit steered a major controversy in the separatist camp. The senior leader was forced to deny his meeting after he was put under disciplinary action.
The storm in the camp is an eye opener that India needs a major reach out and to initiate back channel diplomacy away from the media glare with these separatists collectively. 2018 shall be the year of peace and both New Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir government must understand it and work for the lasting solution to the problem. Let’s hope that the frequency of encounters will come down in the New Year and instead on security front, the triumph is celebrated politically.