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Civilian Killings In Jammu And Kashmir


In yet another case of target killing in Jammu and Kashmir, a 40-year-old civilian was shot dead by terrorists while he was on his way to the local market in Pulwama.


GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Centre-State relations), GS-II: Governance (Government Policies & Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Unending ordeal of Civilian Killing in Jammu and Kashmir
  2. What is the Modus Operandi of radical elements?
  3. What are the issues?
  4. Radicalization
  5. Radicalisation in J&K
  6. Way forward

Unending ordeal of Civilian Killing in Jammu and Kashmir:

  • As part of a series of attacks on the minority community in the valley led to the death of Kashmiri Pandit and bank guard Sanjay Sharma at the hands of terrorist gunmen in Pulwama.
  • He is the second pandit victimised to terrorism after such incident that occurred in 1990, when J & K was at the peak of militancy.
  • This could be a deliberate attempt by the terrorists to strike fear into the minority community in the area.
  • However, it also signifies the failure of security agencies to adequately protect the poor residents.

What is the Modus Operandi of radical elements?

  • Last year, militant attacks resulted in the deaths of 29 civilians including three local Pandits, three other Hindus and eight non-local labourers.
  • This also caused the migration of 5,500 Pandit employees from the Valley.
  • These radical elements targeting civilians have clear reasons- the attacks are meant to invite state retaliation and repression, in turn fomenting discontent and disaffection to garner more recruits to the cause.

What are the issues?

  • The fact that areas that were relatively safe for the minority community even during the peak of militancy have now become unsafe suggests that the administration must rethink its security-centric policies in the Valley.
  • The repeated killings signify the breakdown of relations between the administration and the citizenry, leading to the inability of the administration to anticipate and prevent such attacks.
  • As claimed by the Union Territory administration and the Union government, the moves such as the dilution of Article 370 and bifurcating the State in 2019 have helped curb militancy and were necessary to bring back normalcy in the Valley.
  • However, the repeated attacks on the minority community suggest that the radical sections have sought to utilise the disaffection in the Valley to foment polarisation.


  • Radicalization is a process by which an individual or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or contemporary ideas and expressions of the nation.
  • The outcomes of radicalization are shaped by the ideas of the society at large; for example, radicalism can originate from a broad social consensus against progressive changes in society or from a broad desire for change in society.
  • Radicalization can be both violent and nonviolent, although most academic literature focuses on radicalization into violent extremism (RVE).
  • There are multiple pathways that constitute the process of radicalization, which can be independent but are usually mutually reinforcing.
  • Radicalization that occurs across multiple reinforcing pathways greatly increases a group’s resilience and lethality.
  • Furthermore, by compromising its ability to blend in with non-radical society and participate in a modern, national economy, radicalization serves as a kind of sociological trap that gives individuals no other place to go to satisfy their material and spiritual needs
  • The Judge Webster Commission 2009 had observed: ‘Radicalism is not a crime. Without exhortation to violence, radicalization alone may not be a threat.’

Radicalisation in J&K

  • General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s dictator-President, started the practise of utilising religious overtones in statecraft.
  • He emphasised the importance of religion in government policy. During his reign, the development of Madrasas began, and they have played a significant role in the Islamization and radicalization of Pakistani youth.
  • Later, as part of low-intensity war activities, this spilled over into Kashmir (LICO).
  • Insurgents who wanted J&K to secede from India began using violent measures to achieve their goal in 1989.
  • As a result, effective counter-insurgency operations were launched.
  • To combat militancy, the Public Safety Act of 1978 and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 were utilised.
  • In Pakistan, hundreds of tanzeems (fighting organisations) were formed to fight in Afghanistan. Some of these were later sent to Jammu and Kashmir.
  • In the pretext of Islam and Kashmiri liberation, Pakistani operatives went about recruiting young people to train in Pakistan.
  • Due to threats from terrorist leaders in the 1990s, many Kashmiri families transferred one of their sons to Pakistan to be trained and subsequently deployed in Kashmir.
  • Governor’s rule remained in place in J & K for a long period, effectively suppressing the democratic process.
  • Homegrown militancy first emerged in Kashmir during protests over state elections in 2008, and then again when the Indian Army killed three infiltrators in 2010.
  • The Hurriyat Conference of All Parties called for violent protests, which led to rioting, the burning of government cars, and “stone-pelting events.”
  • With the emergence of homegrown militancy, the situation on the ground deteriorated.

Way forward:

  • Only an effective government by elected representatives of the people of the Valley can do more to rebuild trust between the administration and the citizenry. This will help isolate the radical sections and ease the workload of the security forces in Kashmir.
  • It is imperative to restore the democratic processes to reverse religious polarization in Jammu and Kashmir


March 2024