SRINAGAR: Contrary to the official narrative that militancy in the Valley is confined to just four south Kashmir districts, an insurgency is widespread in Kashmir, with nine out of 10 districts affected by terrorism last year.
South Kashmir, comprising four districts of Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama, which have emerged as the stronghold of terrorists after the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, witnessed 127 militant killings in 2018. Shopian district topped the list with 43 militant killings followed by 39 in Pulwama, 30 in Anantnag and 15 in Kulgam.
North Kashmir, comprising three districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora witnessed 93 insurgent killings in encounters with security forces in 2018.
The Kupwara district topped with 52 militant killings followed by Baramulla with 27 and Bandipora with 14. Among the militants killed in north Kashmir was PhD scholar Mannan Wani, who had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in January this year. He was killed in a gunfight with security forces in the border district of Kupwara on October 11.
According to police data, 16 militants were killed in encounters with security forces in sensitive Srinagar district in 2018 while six more militants including Lashkar-e-Toiba’s Kashmir chief Naveed Jhatt, who had escaped from police captivity in Srinagar hospital in February last year, were killed in the gunfights with security forces in Budgam district.
Another central Kashmir district of Ganderbal did not witness any encounter or militant killings. Although a Hizb militant of the district, who was PhD scholar and Assistant Professor of University of Kashmir, Rafi Bhat, was killed on May 6, a day after joining Hizb.
Top ultras wiped out
Many top commanders of the Lashkar, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Ansarul Ghazwat-ul-Hind were among those killed in south Kashmir last year. All three north Kashmir districts are connected to LoC with some sectors. Militants, mostly Pakistanis, attempting to infiltrate from these sectors every year. Bandipora was once the stronghold of pro-govt gunmen but now has emerged as a support base for Pakistani militants.