It is not just the high-profile commanders, who are among the 119 militants that the police has helped kill in Kashmir within the first half of this year. There are many reasons why Dilbagh Singh, the chief of Jammu and Kashmir police, thinks that 2020 is turning out to be a remarkably good year for the counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir, particularly for his force. Keeping civilian casualties down and suffering relatively few losses to the forces, while carrying out high-stakes encounters, are among them. Singh talks in detail about the reasons in this interview.
There are many achievements to your credit this year. Averting a Pulwama style IED attack, killing Hizbul’s Kashmir chief Riyaz Naikoo are among them. What do you think is the biggest achievement for police this year?
It is for the first time in four years that more militants have been killed than those who have joined terror groups. That’s something to be happy about. If you take the last four years, we were able to kill about 260 terrorists in 2018, about 160 last year and this year, so far, we have been able to kill 119 terrorists.
But the more remarkable thing is that it is after many years that the number of those who have joined the terror groups is many times lower than the terrorists, both who’ve come from Pakistan and locals, we have killed this year. It’s a healthy trend and we would like to maintain it.
What do you attribute the success of the counter-insurgency operations to?
This is not a job that was done in a month or two. For the past two to three years, we have put in a concerted effort. It was in the latter half of 2018 that we began to firmly tilt the scales in our favour. We strengthened our intel network, improved our coordination.
And the fact that there have been relatively few casualties to civilians and forces must be a confidence booster.
You look at our law and order management over the past few months. Killing Riyaz Naikoo and the law and order management after that. Killing Zakir Musa, Junaid Sehri, Burhan Koka and the law and order management after that. We did not allow unruly crowds to assemble and attack our forces. We have taken it event by event, planned in advance and put in more efforts than were necessary to keep the situation under control. The results are there for everyone to see.
As far as civilians are concerned, we have put in a lot of efforts to see to it that there are no complaints about the conduct of forces. There are no clashes, no excesses, not one incident where a civilian can complain about police excesses. We have exercised utmost control in our encounters with civilians.
When executing encounters, we take care to ensure that there are no civilian casualties. See how we handled the recent encounter in Srinagar. It was a 100% police operation. In the encounter we carried out in Awantipora, those guys had gone into a mosque. We handled the entire episode with great sensitivity to ensure that there was absolutely no damage to the mosque. The locals appreciated our efforts. We have improved in the field of perception management. The public notices how sensitive we are with them. It helps expand our reach.
And generally, if you look at the law and order management, we have been able to bring down the incidents of violence by almost 80%. Our intelligence network and the flow of information is top class right now, because of which almost 99% of the inputs are coming in from the police.