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വായന

06 December, 2016

What the terror balance sheet says

BRP Bhaskar
Gulf Today

India has just missed consciously an opportunity to initiate steps to put its troubled relations with Pakistan on an even keel.

When Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz landed in Amritsar a day ahead of Sunday’s Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan there was speculation that there might be informal talks to improve the relationship between the two countries which touched a new low after militants from across the line of control attacked an army base at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir and India retaliated with surgical strikes on terror launch pads on the other side. However, the Indian government said no talks were possible while acts of terrorism continued.

Terrorism figured prominently in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the delegates to the Amritsar conference, who included representatives of a score of countries including the United States, China and Russia. He said it was necessary to end terrorism to foster stability, security and development in Afghanistan and in the region as a whole.

The year witnessed an escalation of militant activity in Kashmir and a corresponding deterioration in the relations between the two neighbours. In the very first week there was a daring attack on an air force base at Pathankot.

In his Independence Day address, Modi raised the issue of Pakistani human rights violations in Baluchistan as a counter to Islamabad’s harping on Indian rights violations in Kashmir.

The killing of Burhan Wani, a young home-grown militant leader, by the security forces led to youth unrest which paralysed life in Kashmir valley for nearly four months.

Eighteen soldiers were killed in the Uri attack which took place during a rotation of units. The surgical strikes, which occurred a few days later, marked a departure from the policy of strategic restraint which the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance governments had followed. It boosted Modi’s sagging macho image but failed to make any appreciable difference to infiltration across the LoC and terror attacks. The year appears set to end as one of the bloodiest in recent years.

The worst year of the decade was 2007. As many as 311 militants crossed into India that year and 121 uniformed personnel were killed and 336 injured in terrorist attacks. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), which collates information relating to terrorism, 164 civilians and 492 militants were also killed that year.

The following years saw a decline in militancy in Kashmir and infiltration across the LoC. Casualty figures of security personnel fell continuously and stood at only 17 in 2012 before starting to climb again.

This year, there has been only a marginal increase in the number of violent incidents but casualties among men in uniform have risen dramatically. On September 30, the toll stood at 63 security personnel killed and 181 injured. The latest available tally is 77 dead, as on November 27.

Parliament was told recently that 105 terrorists from across the LoC entered Kashmir until September 30 this year, as against only 33 last year. This, again, is the highest figure since 2007.

The security forces can perhaps draw some comfort from the fact that this year they have been able to impose heavier penalties on the terrorists than in the recent past. Their toll stood at 119 at the end of September.

Casualty figures at the SATP website show that since 1988 terrorism has taken a toll of 49,315 lives across India, 44,119 of them in Jammu and Kashmir. The number of terrorists killed was 24,101, including 23,121 in J&K. A total of 9,854 security personnel were killed. 7,688 of them in Kashmir. Civilians bore the brunt of the attacks: 17,526 killed, including 14,735 in Kashmir. 

The hope raised by the surgical strike was shattered when three terrorists, wearing police uniform, broke into the Nagrota base in Kashmir last week and launched an attack in which seven military personnel, including two Army majors, were killed. They are believed to have entered India through a tunnel and reached the base travelling 85 kilometres evading army checkpoints.

Retiring Northern Army Commander Lt-Gen DS Hooda said later the Kashmir conflict was a long war requiring a long-term approach. It is just another way of saying it is a problem that requires a political solution. The terror balance-sheet also says the same thing. --Gulf Today, Sharjah, December 6, 2016.

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