Militants in Jammu and Kashmir took heavy toll on security forces in 2013

Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a significant drop in the number of militancy-related incidents during 2013 but ultras took a heavy toll on security forces, killing more personnel than in past two years put together.

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a significant drop in the number of militancy-related incidents during 2013 but ultras took a heavy toll on security forces, killing more personnel than in past two years put together.

As many as 61 security force personnel were killed in militant attacks during the year, which marks over 100 percent increase in the fatalities suffered by them during 2012. Forty-seven security force personnel were killed in 2012 and 2011 put together.

The number of militants killed this year declined to 97 compared to 119 last year. As many as 84 ultras were killed in 2011.

Although police and other security agencies maintain that there was nearly 30 percent drop in militancy-related incidents during the year, insurgency continued to pose a major challenge to the security forces.

The security establishment maintained that infiltration of militants into Kashmir from across the Line of Control (LoC) also witnessed a drop this year despite many desperate attempts.

In October, state`s police chief Ashok Prasad said militant violence in Kashmir has come down to the lowest level in the last 23 years.

He said violence "definitely decreased" by 30 per cent in 2013 as compared to last year, attributing the improvement in situation to better coordination among security agencies.

The security grid attributed the higher number of casualties of security forces partly to the strategy on the part of militants -- maximum effect with minimum impact on general public.
The change in the strategy was reflected when militants carried out a suicide attack, the first in the last three years, as two ultras targeted CRPF personnel in Bemina area of the city on March 13, killing five personnel and injuring seven others, before being shot dead.

In another major strike, militants on April 26, ambushed a police vehicle in Sopore area of north Kashmir`s Baramulla district, killing four cops. However, the most deadly attacks were the ones in
Hyderpora in Srinagar and in Samba-Kathua in Jammu.

Militants killed eight army jawans and injured 19 others in Hyderpora locality of the city, a day ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s visit to the state.

Twin terror attacks on a police station and an army camp in Hiranagar and Samba in Jammu on September 26 left eight security men and two civilians dead.

The continued attempts by militants to infiltrate the LoC has kept forces busy on the borders, even as the army said such bids, including the one in Keran sector was a new strategy by militant handlers in Pakistan to push in large number of ultras into the Valley from multiple points with the aim of taking the security grid by surprise.

The Army launched a massive anti-infiltration operation at Shalabhatti in Keran sector of Kashmir amid reports that Pakistan-backed militants assisted by regular army soldiers had taken over some Indian villages.
Army claimed that a big group of 30 to 40 militants had infiltrated from across the LoC but the bid was foiled.

However, after 15 days of operation, no bodies were recovered from Shalabhatti area but eight militants were killed in two separate incidents more than 20 km away from the village.

The militants, throughout the year, carried out attacks against police and security forces in Srinagar and other parts of the valley by specifically targeting them at crowded places. While militants inflicted high casualties on the security forces, the latter also had major successes while dealing with the ultras.

Five heavily-armed militants were killed when security forces foiled a major infiltration bid along the LoC in Kupwara district of north Kashmir on July 9.

On August 1, four militants were killed in the three-day- long counter-infiltration operation launched by the Army along the LoC in Handwara area of north Kashmir.

The biggest success in the hinterland for security forces came when they gunned down five militants in an ambush in Kangan area of central Kashmir`s Ganderbal district on August 30.

The year also saw militants targeting panchayat members in the state. Three such members were killed and two others injured in separate attacks, triggering panic and fear among the members who started to tender their resignations through media outlets.

Protests again erupted in the Valley as four persons, including two civilians, were killed following a militant attack on a CRPF camp in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir on September 7.

Another youth was killed in CRPF firing on September 11 while protesting against the killings that took place four days earlier.

The security agencies were on tenterhooks as intelligence inputs suggested militants might try to target the annual Amarnath yatra. The pilgrimage passed off peacefully but the number of devotees paying obeisance at the holy cave in south Kashmir Himalayas dropped by almost 45 percent.

Kashmir lost its top cardiologist Dr Sheikh Jalal-ud-din, who succumbed to injuries sustained during a militant attack that also left two of his police guards dead in the highway township of Pampore in Pulwama district of south Kashmir on July 18.