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Since Mar 21, conflict destroyed more families in Kashmir than COVID

File photos of Nawa Kadal encounter site where multiple houses were destroyed last month: KM/Umar Ganie

100 people including 61 militants, 22 security personnel, 17 civilians killed since COVID lockdown began

Srinagar: COVID-19 may be Kashmir’s biggest concern right now but when it comes to devouring lives and wrecking families, it is the Kashmir conflict that has outdone even the biggest pandemic of this century.

The conflict, since the outbreak of COVID-19, has claimed more than double the number of lives than coronavirus has in Kashmir. Ironically, like the pandemic, it too has killed people regardless of religion, age, and association.

As many as 45 people, including 39 in Kashmir, have died of COVID-19 in J&K so far, including four persons who died on Monday.

As compared to it, data shows that since March 21 when the lockdown was first enforced in Jammu and Kashmir, as many as 100 people have been killed in encounters, attacks, and border skirmishes.

Of them, at least 61 are militants, majority of who have been killed in over two dozen encounters across Kashmir.

During the period, 22 security personnel and at least 17 civilians too have lost their lives in gunfights, attacks, or at security checkpoints.

The Jammu and Kashmir government announced the lockdown on March 21 to contain spread of coronavirus. The valley completed 80 days of the current lockdown on Monday

This lockdown has been comparatively different than that of previous year, when government abrogated Article 370 and snapped communication lines and internet, bringing down the frequency of encounters.

Right after March 21, two civilians were killed by unidentified gunmen in Kulgam.

In April, 33 militants, 10 security personnel, and 12 civilians were killed in encounters, border skirmishes, and attacks by unidentified gunmen.

In May, 18 militants were killed including Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Commander Riyaz Naikoo and son of senior separatist leader Junaid Sehrai. The month also witnessed the death of 11 security personnel and three civilians, and an increased militant activity in northern Kashmir.

On May 3, five security personnel including a Colonel, Major, police officer and two soldiers were killed in an encounter in Handwara, in which two militants were also killed.

A day later, another attack by militants killed three CRPF personnel in Wangam, Handwara.
A specially-abled teenager was also killed when he was hit by a “stray bullet”.

On May 6, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo, who was active since 2012, was killed along with his aide in an encounter in Awantipora areas of Pulwama district.

On May 19, over a dozen houses were damaged in Srinagar’s Nawa Kadal area in an encounter in which Junaid Sehrai, Hizb militant and son of separatist leader Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, was killed along with another militant.

So far in June, as many as 17 people have died including 15 militants who were killed in five encounters, while a civilian and a sarpanch was shot dead by gunmen.

Four militants were killed on Monday in Pinjura area of Shopian. A sarpanch was also shot dead by suspected militants in Anantnag district during the day. 

A day before, five militants were killed in Reban area of Shopian in yet another encounter.

On June 6, a civilian was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Sopore.

A militant was killed in Rajouri on June 4, two militants in Tral on June 2, while three more militants were killed yet again in Rajouri on June 1.

Police says militants killed with people’s “cooperation”

Director General of Police, J&K, Dilbag Singh Monday said during the last two weeks, 22 militants were killed with “cooperation from the people.”

The DGP, while briefing some media persons at police headquarters, said Pakistan “and its handlers are hell bent upon disturbing the ever improving security environment” of Jammu and Kashmir by training and infiltrating in militants into J&K.

He said that 88 militants were killed in 35 encounters so far in 2020.

The DGP added that 40 militant associates “who were providing a direct support system” to these militants were arrested.

“240 OGWs were also arrested for helping these militants by instigating law and order problems and many of them were booked under PSA,” the DGP said.