New Year of hope and peace
Jammu and Kashmir is one place which always attracts attention and most of the times it is for the wrong reasons. Year 2018 too was one such period when the state earned lot of attention and grabbed headlines for almost the entire year.
The past year was the deadliest in the last decade with 586 people killed in different incidents of violence in Kashmir Valley. These figures were revealed by a civil society and a right body on the last day of the year 2018.
Among 586 people killed, 160 were civilians, 267 militants and 159 members of Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir police.
The killing of 267 militants during encounters with armed forces and police is also the highest in the last decade. In fact, there has been a marked uptick in militant killings since 2016 as 145,216 and 267 militants have been killed in Kashmir in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. During the last decade, year 2012 witnessed least number of killings.
Among the 160 civilians killed in 2018, 18 were women. The year also witnessed killing of at least 31 children, accounting for nearly 20% killings of civilians, which is highest in the last ten years.
The rights body also claimed that 2018 saw extrajudicial executions of at least 160 civilians with the month of May recording the highest (28) civilians killed this year. November recorded highest (61) killings followed by October-with 57 killings.
The four districts of South Kashmir – Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian jointly recorded highest number of civilian killings with 85, while North Kashmir districts of Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora recorded 24 civilian killings and the Central Kashmir districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal and Budgam recorded 13 civilian killings.
In 2018, 191 incidents of excessive use of force were recorded. This kind of a situation led to 40 deaths as armed forces dealt with the situations emerging out of encounters with militants.
The past year has left indelible marks on the psyche of the people in the valley. The year that was meant to be a year of hope and new beginning meant disaster and death, throwing up new challenges for those who lost their dear ones.
Year past year, Kashmir has been witnessing the same old story. The past three decades being too brute for the people here. But, still we are clinging to hope amid despair. We still yearn for good times to come and pray that the end to our worries and troubles is round the corner.
In this New Year we hope that good sense prevails among all those who matter and who can play their role in establishing peace in this troubled region.
Let us hope and pray that the state of Jammu and Kashmir ushers into a new phase of optimism and peace where people will breathe in free environs which are free from fear and suppression.