In the latest in a series of encounters targeting militants, security forces on Thursday killed Abu Qasim, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader, in Khandaypora, Kulgam district, south Kashmir. Qasim, who the police said was directly or indirectly involved in all major attacks in the Valley since 2012, is believed to be the mastermind of the August 5 attack on a BSF convoy in Udhampur, Jammu, in which two personnel were killed and more than 10 injured.
Abdul Rehman alias Abu Qasim is a Pakistani national who was actively operating in Jammu and Kashmir for the past five years and was responsible for the October 2012 attack on the Silver Star Hotel, the 2013 Hyderpora attack in which eight jawans were killed and the October 7 attack in Bandipore where sub-inspector Mohammad Altaf was killed in a shootout. An Army spokesperson said that Qasim’s killing was a ‘major blow to terrorists and their masters’ and it is expected to bring down militancy in the Valley.
Qasim’s killing comes at a time when security personnel have been increasingly successful in neutralising militants or their modules in the state. This strategy seems to be paying off as in the past two months 18 militants from the LeT, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammed have been killed. This is an important step as far as restoring peace and normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, but the challenge is far from over, and the governments — both at the state and Centre — need to do more. The BJP-PDP coalition, which has been in power since March, has so far failed to live up to the promises it made to the people of the state. The two parties, rather than speaking in one voice, are working at cross purposes, as their approach to the Kashmir separatists and talks with Pakistan show. That most of the points in the common minimum programme are yet to be initiated, let alone fulfilled, is proof that the two parties in the coalition are yet to attain the political synergy required to run the government.
In the light of these developments, the proposed November 7 visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gains significance and raises a lot of expectations. Mr Modi’s visit comes as the BJP-PDP coalition completes eight months in power and the prime minister will address a joint rally of both the parties. Speculation is that an economic package, including the much-awaited flood relief, will be announced. The administration’s strategy towards the militants will help bring peace to the people of the state, but a lot more needs to be done — failing which the progress thus achieved will be short-lived. It is to be seen if the BJP-PDP coalition will rise to the occasion.