Violence levels in Jammu and Kashmir may have come down by 35 per cent in the past year but the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is not drawing any comfort from this number and has flagged issues of home grown terrorism gaining ground in the valley.
As per Home Ministry statistics, a total of 120 incidents have been reported till July 15 this year while 188 incidents were reported last year. But what is causing a serious concern is the number of local terrorists getting killed indicating that recruitment is on the rise in the valley.
As per MHA data, out of the 136 terrorists killed till mid-July this year only 15 were foreigners and nine are yet to be identified. Rest of them were locals. Last year in this time period 126 terrorists were killed.
However, Jammu and Kashmir Police denounces that local recruitment is on a rise in valley.
"In 2020 so far 79 youngsters have joined various terror tanzeems while last year in 2019, 135 were identified who joined various terror groups," states Vijay Kumar IGP (Kashmir).
According to him, out of 79 local teens who joined terror groups, 38 have been killed and 12 have been arrested. "As of now 29 local terrorists who have been recruited this year are operating in the valley," he adds.
"Statistics alone cannot project ground reality. Those who are being killed are not well trained and nor they are well equipped," states Avinash Mohananey, former Joint Director of Intelligence Bureau who handled the Kashmir desk for over a decade.
Meanwhile, Jammu Kashmir Police has named three hard-core Hizbul Mujahideen operatives - Zakir Musa, Riyaz Naikoo and Burhan Koka - all locals but dreaded terrorists responsible for many heinous acts, getting killed in encounters in South Kashmir.
Another reason that has alarm bells ringing in the North Block is encounters taking place in plains and in Srinagar.
"Earlier such encounters used to take place in hilly areas but now even in plains presence of local terrorists is there and this is a cause of concern," a senior functionary in MHA discloses.
According to him, armed terrorists are now frequenting Srinagar.
"Two days back, Lashkar terrorists - Ishfaq Rashid and Aijaj Bhat - were killed in Srinagar city. It's a dangerous trend," he points out, adding earlier in May, Junaid Serhai, a top Hizbul commander was also killed in Nawakadal in Srinagar.
"Most of the operations in the valley were clean operations and no collateral damage was reported. We have managed to put a stop to funeral processions and gun salutes also," DGP Dilbagh Singh told NDTV.
The Home Ministry factsheet also pointed out that in a significant achievement terrorists-initiated violence has seen a drop this year. As per data till mid-July, only 21 terrorists initiated incidents were reported while last year in 2019 as many as 51 incidents were reported. IED attacks have come down as well.
"This year, only one incident has been reported while last year 6 cases of IED were reported," explains a senior bureaucrat.