How many lives of armed forces has the Kashmir conflict claimed
news Terror Sunday, September 18, 2016 - 16:36

On Sunday morning, in a fidayeen attack, 17 Indian soldiers lost their lives in Uri.

In the world’s most militarised zone, Kashmir, the Indian armed forces have lost many lives.

Since the insurgency broke out in Kashmir, thousands of people including armed forces personnel have lost their lives in the conflict.

Sunday’s attack on the army camp in Uri, was one of the biggest operations against the armed forces in recent years. The death toll of armed forces personnel was also one of the highest seen in recent years.

Although different groups have their own estimates, everyone agrees that the death has simply been too high. In about 25 years, over 44,000 people – combatants and civilians – have lost their lives in “incidents” of a slightly higher number, according to data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, run by the Institute of Conflict Management. The SATP numbers have been compiled from news reports.

At the beginning of the insurgency in 1988, SATP figures say 29 civilians and one armed forces person and militant each lost their lives in 390 incidents.

Between 1989 and 2000 the numbers of armed forces casualties continued to rise and peaked at 638 before continuing to drop in the next six years.

The death toll of militants and terrorists too rose in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Between 1993 and 2003, the number of militants and terrorists killed remained between 1000-1500 – with the exception of 2001 when it shot up to 2850 – before leveling out to less than 500 after 2006.

The number of civilians killed in these years is also high and reflect the pattern of death among armed forces and militants. Between 1988 and 1992 numbers remained below 1,000 before peaking at 1,333 in 1996. In the years after that the death toll crossed 1,000 only in 2001 (1,067) and steadily declined to below 500 after 2006.              

Most conflict experts including journalists who have covered the militancy in Kashmir and conflict elsewhere in India agree that the Kashmir insurgency has been decimated. Numbers of the armed forces personnel and the state police in Kashmir have actually risen.

Writing for The Hindu in 2014, senior journalist Praveen Swami broke down the deployment by collating figures for various groups of police and armed forces from multiple sources.

Since 2001-02, Praveen says, there isn’t an insurgency to be fought, as violence levels have dropped. SATP figures also suggest this.

The number of “incidents” since 2002 has been “not applicable”. According to SATP figures, there were 47,234 incidents of violence from 1988 to September 2016. Starting at 390 in the first year, the numbers averaged around 4,500 in 1992-96 before steadily dropping. There were no incidents recorded from 2002.

Praveen says that governments everywhere in the world have found that long-term deployment of armed forces “inevitably leads to friction with local communities”.

“France’s military in Algeria, the special forces officer Roger Trinquier wrote, “reminds one of a pile driver attempting to crush a fly, indefatigably persisting in repeating its efforts”. That’s just what India needs to stop doing — and turn to politics instead,” Praveen says.

(A pile driver is a machine used to dig holes to erect poles in the ground to support building foundations.)

Some major attacks:

Hyderpora: In June 2013, eight soldiers were killed near Hyderpora, outside Srinagar, when an army convoy was attacked. The attack occurred a day before then prime minister Manmohan Singh was to visit Kashmir.

Pathankot attack: On May 14, 2016, seven armed forces personnel were killed when terrorists laid siege to the air force base at Pathankot, Punjab. Security personnel killed four terrorists whose bodies were buried in Punjab after the Pakistan government refused to accept their bodies.

Nowhatta, Srinagar: On August 15, a CRPF officer was killed when terrorists opened fire at security personnel in the Nowhatta area of Srinagar. Eight CRPF personnel and police officer were injured in the attack. 

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