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17 militants killed in Kashmir in January 2020

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

At least 17 militants and two security personnel have been killed in eight encounters in Indian-administered Kashmir in January.

Vijay Kumar, the police inspector general for the Kashmir region, told  the militants killed include top commanders of the Jaish outfit. Since Aug. 5, 2019, when the Narenda Modi government stripped the Jammu and Kashmir region of its semi-autonomous status, 10 encounters were reported across Kashmir in which 20 militants were killed but in January, eight encounters have already taken place which experts predict happened because communication lines eased and tracking militants has also been easy for security agencies.

Luqman Mukhtar, a research scholar in political science, told  the beginning of the year has given a fair idea of how badly the security tracking system was hit by blockade of communication lines in Kashmir.

“As communication lines have opened up, the pace of encounters has started taking up in Kashmir,” said Mukhtar.

The first encounter started Jan. 6 at Awantipora when a local militant affiliated with Hizbul-Mujhahideen was killed. That was followed by seven more encounters.

The recent being of Nagrota, Jammu encounter in which three militants were killed and a local policeman sustained injuries Friday “So far three terrorists have been gunned down and one policeman is also injured in the gunfight,” a police spokesperson told.

Police said the gun battle started at around 5 a.m. Friday (2330GMT) after police intercepted a Srinagar-bound goods truck near a toll plaza in Nagrota on the outskirts of the southern city of Jammu.

The militants traveling in the truck fired on police leading to an encounter, police said. It was in mid-January, under the direction of the Indian Supreme Court, when the government in Kashmir restored internet facilities to Institutions dealing with essential services.

Five days later, mobile phone and limited internet connectivity were restored in the region of Jammu and Kashmir with a complete prohibition on the accessibility of social media.

87 encounters in 2019

From January to July last year, more than 135 militants were killed by security forces, while over 260 militants were neutralized in 2018.

Continuing with the policy of “operation all out,” that has been going on in Kashmir since 2017, Indian armed forces carried out numerous encounters with militants in different areas leading to killings, severe injuries and destruction of civilian property.

The report by Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society said in 2019 a total of 87 encounters took place in Jammu and Kashmir leading to killings of 150 militants and 29 personnel from Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir police.

The report said the frequent instances of cordon and search operations have led to multiple human rights violations of the civilian population, including harassment, molestation, detention and use of excessive and indiscriminate force.

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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