Pampore ambush underlines the growing militant challenge in Kashmir

By all accounts the militancy in Kashmir has surged dramatically this year. The figures present this reality very graphically: About 260 people are dead, among them 163 militants, 87 security personnel and thirteen civilians. The number of attacks on forces have drastically shot up from 208 in 2015 to 305 until November 2016. The militancy-related incidents for 2013 and 2014 are 170 and 222 respectively.

Pampore ambush underlines the growing militant challenge in Kashmir

The recent  militant attack which killed three soldiers was the fourth this year at Pampore, a small township on the outskirts if Srinagar. The first two killed fourteen personnel, seven each, whileas the third was repelled successfully with the security forces killing the two militants holed up at the large and hulking EDI (Entrepreneurship Development Institute) building. This has underlined yet again the growing challenge of militancy in the state.


By all accounts the militancy in Kashmir has surged dramatically this year. The figures present this reality very graphically: About 260 people are dead, among them 163 militants, 87 security personnel and thirteen civilians. The number of attacks on forces have drastically shot up from 208 in 2015 to 305 until November 2016. The militancy-related incidents for 2013 and 2014 are 170 and 222 respectively.

The reason for this is a substantial jump in the local militant recruitment, much of it in the past five months. According to J&K Police estimates, more than 50 local youth have joined militancy which is the largest such recruitment in such a short period over the past decade.

In addition, there has been an enhanced infiltration to shore up the strength of the local militancy. Local militants lack the sufficient training and the mettle to storm security camps. And this is where the battle-hardened Lashker or Jaish militants from Pakistan called Fidayeen come handy fot the militant organisations. They force their way into fortified security camps, engage the security personnel in extended encounters to inflict heavy losses before they are themselves killed.

"This year there has been a conspicuous rise in Fidayeen attacks and ambushes have returned in a big way. And some of them like the ones at Uri, Nagrota and Pampore have caused huge losses to troops," said a police officer. "Similarly, the Line of Control has been most active this year leading to a significant rise in the civilian and security fatalities".

This is a fraught situation and bodes ill for the peace in the subcontinent. The situation has every chance of escalating into a big confrontation. More so, when as a result of the lack of an engagement, the two countries lack the crisis tools to address the deteriorating situation.

"This calls for urgent measures by both the countries to pull the situation back from the brink," says Naseer Ahmad, a local columnist. "The primary challenge for the neighbours is to live like normal neighbours which is something they have been singularly unable to do over the past two years".

In fact, as the recent border skirmishes have once again underlined the two countries remain farthest from even confronting sanely their issues or handling their respective truths. Even sometimes a small incident brings into play a complex play of history, memory and prejudice.

Things have gotten only worse over the years with even a statement by a politician in one country exposing raw nerve endings in another. There is now so much vitriol against each other in a substantial section of public life of the both countries - with media playing a role in fanning it - that it seems unnatural that the two countries could ever be friends.

"Best thing that can happen to India and Pakistan under the circumstance is for them to learn to deal with their troubled relationship with a degree of care, maturity and understanding," says Naseer. "And this will only happen when they don't look at the conflict over Kashmir and at their own bilateral relationship through their self-serving narratives".