Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister's Office, Jitendra Singh, said on Saturday that militancy is in its last leg in Jammu and Kashmir and that more than 600 militants have been killed during various operations during the NDA's tenure at the centre.
Ahead of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to the valley next week, Jitendra Singh said that it was because of the various decisions by the Narendra Modi-led government that more militants have been killed during its tenure than the earlier tenures of Congress-led governments at the centre.
"The decisive actions that the government has taken... 600 militants have been killed during the period, and this is much higher than the number of militants killed during the UPA-I and UPA-II (governments). Militancy in the Valley is in its last stage," he said.
On the possibility of the initiation of a dialogue with the Kashmiri separatists, Jitendra Singh said that though the centre will not send separate invitations to anyone, all are welcome to meet the government representatives including him.
Jitendra Singh's remarks, however, seem to bear a stark contrast to the ground reality in Kashmir which has seen a sharp increase in anti-militancy operations since 2016 involving local youth.
Earlier this year, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had informed the state Legislative Assembly that the year 2017 saw the highest number of militant recruitments compared to previous years.
"126 youth joined militancy in 2017 as compared to 88 in 2016 and 66 in 2015," she had said.
A recent report on militancy and recruitment in Kashmir by security agencies said that the anti-militancy operations seem to have fuelled militant hirings in the valley. Locals living near the killed militant's residences or encounter sites have also taken up arms and sometimes the number of youth joining militant ranks exceeds those killed during combat operations.
Hameeda Nayeem, the President of Kashmir Civil Society Group, told International Business Times India that Singh's latest assertions hold no weight considering the reports that have come from the state and central governments in the past.
"These statements are nothing but a pack of lies. The BJP led government had decided to deal with the local militants and hostile youth with an iron hand. But even that has not yielded any results. The anger and alienation among the youth have only grown and the results are for everyone to see. Gunning down the militants has done more harm than good. The fact remains that an unconditional dialogue with the political representatives from the valley still remains the key to sustainable peace," Nayeem added.
Ever since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016, the Southern Kashmir has remained a potboiler of militancy. The various anti-militancy operations have witnessed huge resistance from locals who often resort to stone pelting at encounter sites which also leads to civilian casualties.
The funerals of militants also become a flashpoint of militant recruitments with emotions running high among the friends and relatives of the deceased which is also marked by the presence of other militants offering gun salutes.
The militant hirings has also not been seen to be restricted to lower and middle income groups but also from well to do families.
A journalist, Shuja-ul-Haq, remarked on Twitter, "Educated people joining militancy, unarmed youngsters not caring about their lives and attacking armed security forces, continued infiltration from across the borders. Situation in Kashmir is worrying. People outside need to wake up to these alarms & intervene rationally."