“It’s going to be a hot summer in Kashmir,” Gurmeet Singh, brigadier general staff of the army’s 15 Corps, had predicted in March.
But it was not the rising mercury he was worried about.
The Valley was witnessing a resurgence of militancy since the government began withdrawing 35,000 troops from the state late last year.
“Without creating any hype, we have reduced 35,000 army personnel and also decreased the number of CRPF and BSF men from internal duty,” Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had told the assembly on March 18.
But with troops moving out, militants seem to be back in the Valley.
The year began with a suicide attack in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk area (in January) — the first such attack since November 2006. Since then violence has only surged northward, particularly in Sopore, Tral and Kulgam districts.
Last month, after killing five militants in the snowy mountains, the army had claimed that nearly 400 militants were waiting to cross into the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC). The army lost three officers and six soldiers in gunbattles with militants. Six others were killed in fighting another group of infiltrators in Rajouri district.
On Wednesday, the army lost a major and a soldier in Bandipore district of north Kashmir, while militants managed to escape. Two days later, two more soldiers lost their lives in Baramullah district, after gunning down five militants.
The recent arrest of six boys from a school in Sopore, aged between 12 and 13 years, reiterates that militant groups are also trying to brainwash the youth and recruit them for guerrilla warfare. The boys were arrested near the LoC while trying to cross into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
“Definitely, there was a militant outfit behind this act. Most probably, they must have been indoctrinated by Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen,” says Baramullah’s Deputy Inspector General A.Q. Manhas, who handed over the boys to their parents.
Sadly, the trend, many security personnel believe, is likely to continue.