Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir

This article is about the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir. For the wider conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, see Kashmir Conflict.
Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
Part of the Kashmir conflict
Kashmir map big.jpg
Kashmir : Shown in green is the Kashmiri region under Pakistani control. The dark-brown region represents Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir while the Aksai Chin is under Chinese control.
Date 1989–present
Location Jammu and Kashmir
Result Conflict ongoing

Flag of India.svg India

Flag of Jihad.svg Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami
Flag of Jihad.svg Lashkar-e-Taiba
Jaishi-e-Mohammed.svg Jaish-e-Mohammed
Flag of Jihad.svg Hizbul Mujahideen
Harakat flag.png Harkat-ul-Mujahideen
Al-badr flag.png Al-Badr
Kashmir independent.svg Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front
Supported by:
Afghanistan Taliban[2]

Flag of Jihad.svg al-Qaeda[2]
Commanders and leaders

Flag of Indian Army.svg General Bipin Rawat
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt Gen DS Hooda
Air Force Ensign of India.svg Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa

Flag of India.svg Prakash Mishra

Flag of Jihad.svg Hafiz Saeed
Jaishi-e-Mohammed.svg Maulana Azhar
Flag of Jihad.svg Ilyas Kashmiri  
Flag of Jihad.svg Sayeed Salahudeen
Harakat flag.png Fazlur Rehman Khalil
Harakat flag.png Farooq Kashmiri
Al-badr flag.png Arfeen Bhai
Kashmir independent.svg Amanullah Khan

Al-badr flag.png Bakht Zameen
Flag of India.svg 30,000[3] – 600,000[4] Army
Flag of India.svg 65,000 CRPF[5]

3,500 to 5,000 (2006 est.)[6]

≈150 (2014 est.)[7]
Casualties and losses
5,462 security forces killed[8]

>21,000 militants killed[9]
3,000 captured[6]

≈4,500 surrendered[6]
20,228[10]–70,000+ civilians killed[11]

The insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir or the Kashmiri Insurgency is a conflict between various Kashmiri separatists and nationalists[12][13][14][15][16] sometimes known as "ultras" (extremists),[17][18] and the Government of India. Few groups favour Kashmir accession to Pakistan, while others seek Kashmir's complete independence.[19] Since 2002, skirmishes with the local insurgents have constituted the main conflict in the Kashmir region.[20] The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir has strong Islamist elements among the insurgents, with many of the "ultras" identifying with Jihadist movements and supported by such.[21]

The roots of the conflict between the Kashmiri insurgents and the Indian government are tied to a dispute over local autonomy.[22] Democratic development was limited in Kashmir until the late 1970s and by 1988 many of the democratic reforms provided by the Indian government had been reversed and non-violent channels for expressing discontent were limited and caused a dramatic increase in support for insurgents advocating violent secession from India.[22] In 1987, a disputed State election[23] created a catalyst for the insurgency when it resulted in some of the state's legislative assembly members forming armed insurgent groups.[24][25][26] In July 1988, a series of demonstrations, strikes and attacks on the Indian government began the Kashmir Insurgency, which during the 1990s escalated into the most important internal security issue in India.

Thousands of people have died[27] during fighting between insurgents and the government as well as thousands of civilians who have died as a result of being targeted by the various armed groups.[28]

The Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan has been accused by India of supporting and training mujahideen.[29][30] to fight in Jammu and Kashmir.[30][2][31] In 2015, former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf admitted that Pakistan had supported and trained insurgent groups in the 1990s.[32] According to official figures released in Jammu and Kashmir assembly, there were 3,400 disappearance cases and the conflict has left more than 47,000 people dead which also includes 7,000 police personnel as of July 2009.[33] However, the number of insurgency-related deaths in the state have fallen sharply since the start of a slow-moving peace process between India and Pakistan.[34]


History of the insurgency


After independence from colonial rule India and Pakistan fought a war over the princely state of Kashmir. At the end of the war India controlled the most valuable parts of Kashmir.[35] While there were sporadic periods of violence there was no organised insurgency movement.[36]

During this period legislative elections in Jammu and Kashmir were first held in 1951 and Sheikh Abdullah’s secular party stood unopposed. He was an instrumental member in the accession of the state to India.[37][38]

However Sheikh Abdullah would fall in and out of favour with the central government and would often be dismissed only to be re-appointed later on.[39] This was a time of political instability & power struggle in Jammu and Kashmir and it went through several periods of President's rule by the Federal Government.[26]


The trend in total yearly civilian and security forces fatalities from insurgency-related violence over 25 years from 1988 to 2013.[40]

After Sheikh Abdullah’s death, his son Farooq Abdullah took over as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah eventually fell out of favour with the Central Government and the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi had him dismissed.[citation needed] A year later, Abdullah announced an alliance with the ruling Congress party for the elections of 1987. The elections were allegedly rigged in favour of Abdullah.[26][24]

This led to the rise of an armed insurgency movement composed, in part, of those who unfairly lost elections. Pakistan supplied these groups with logistical support, arms, recruits and training.[26][24][41][21][42]


Main article: 2010 Kashmir unrest

Beginning in 2004 Pakistan began to end its support for insurgents in Kashmir.[43] This happened because terrorist groups linked to Kashmir twice tried to assassinate Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf.[42] His successor, Asif Ali Zardari has continued the policy, calling insurgents in Kashmir "terrorists".[44] Although it is unclear if Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, thought to be the agency aiding and controlling the insurgency[44][45][46] is following Pakistan's commitment to end support for the insurgency in Kashmir.[44]

Despite the change in the nature of the insurgency from a phenomenon supported by external forces to a primarily domestic-driven movement[35][44][47][48][49] the Indian government has continued to send large numbers of troops to the Indian border.[47][49][50]

There have been widespread protests against Indian rule.[47]

Once the most formidable face of Kashmir militancy, Hizbul Mujahideen is slowly fading away as its remaining commanders and cadres are being taken out on a regular interval by security forces.[51] Some minor incidents of grenade throwing and sniper firing at security forces notwithstanding, the situation is under control and more or less peaceful. A record number of tourists including Amarnath pilgrims visited Kashmir during 2012. On 3 August 2012, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba militant commander, Abu Hanzulah involved in various attacks on civilians and security forces was killed in an encounter with security forces in a village in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.[52]


According to an Indian Army data – quoted by Reuters – at least 70 young Kashmiris joined the insurgency in the 2014, army records showed, with most joining the banned group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was accused of carrying out attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008. Two of the new recruits have doctorates and eight were post graduates, the army data showed.[53] According to BBC, that despite a Pakistani ban on militant activity in Kashmir in 2006, its fighters continue to attempt infiltration into Indian-administered Kashmir. These attempts were curtailed however when people living along the Line of Control which divides Indian and Pakistani Kashmir started to hold public protests against their activities.[54]

Reasons for the insurgency

Rigging of 1987 Assembly elections

The insurgency was sparked by the alleged rigging of state elections in 1987.[26][24]

A government report found that almost half of all Kashmiri Panchayat Raj positions were vacant and suggested that the reason for this was the destabilising effect of the conflict. The Panchayat Raj is a system of elected village level governance created by the 73rd amendment to the Indian constitution. The report also noted that their ability to effectively govern was "crippled."[55]

However, 2014 Assembly elections saw highest voters turnout in last 25 years since insurgency has erupted. It recorded more than 65% of voters turnout which is more than usual voters turnout in other states of India. It considered as representing an increase in the Kashmiri people's faith in the democratic process of India.[56][57][58]

ISI's role

The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence has allegedly encouraged and aided the Kashmir independence movement through an insurgency[44][45][46][59] due to its dispute on the legitimacy of Indian rule in Kashmir, with the insurgency as an easy way to keep Indian troops distracted and cause international condemnation of India.[35]
Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf in Oct 2014 said during TV interview, "We have source (in Kashmir) besides the (Pakistan) army…People in Kashmir are fighting against (India). We just need to incite them."[60]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in their first ever open acknowledgement in 2011 in US Court, said that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) sponsors terrorism in Kashmir and it oversees terrorist separatist groups in Kashmir.[13][14][14][15][16]

Mujahideen influence

After the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, Mujahideen fighters, with the aid of Pakistan, slowly infiltrated Kashmir with the goal of spreading a radical Islamist ideology.[24]


Jammu and Kashmir is the only Muslim majority state in Hindu-majority India. Indian-American journalist Asra Nomani states that while India itself is a secular state, Muslims are politically, culturally and economically marginalised when compared to Hindus in India as a whole.[61] The government's decision to transfer 99 acres of forest land to a Hindu organisation (for setting up temporary shelters and facilities for Hindu pilgrims) solidified this feeling and led to one of the largest protest rallies in Jammu and Kashmir.[62]

Humanitarian abuses

After insurgency started in Kashmir valley because of above reasons in late 1980s, Indian troops entered in Kashmir valley to control the insurgency.[63] Some analysts have suggested that the number of Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir is close to 600,000 although estimates vary and the Indian government refuses to release official figures.[64] The troops have been accused of humanitarian abuses[49] and have engaged in extrajudicial killings.[50]

Indian security forces have been implicated in many reports for enforced disappearances of thousands of Kashmiris whereas the security forces deny having their information and/or custody. This is often in association with torture or extrajudicial killing. Human right activists estimate the number of disappeared to be over eight thousand, last seen in government detention.[65][66] The disappeared are believed to be dumped in thousands of mass graves across Kashmir.[67][68][69][70][71] A State Human Rights Commission inquiry in 2011, has confirmed there are thousands of bullet-ridden bodies buried in unmarked graves in Jammu and Kashmir. Of the 2730 bodies uncovered in 4 of the 14 districts, 574 bodies were identified as missing locals in contrast to the Indian governments insistence that all the graves belong to foreign militants.[72][73]

Military forces in Jammu and Kashmir operate under impunity and emergency powers granted to them by the central government. These powers allow the military to curtail civil liberties, creating further support for the insurgency.[74][75]

The insurgents have also abused human rights, engaging in what some have called an ethnic cleansing by exterminating Kashmiri Pandits from the valley of Kashmir.[76] The government's inability to protect the people from both its own troops and the insurgency has further eroded support for the government.[77]

Former Indian Army Chief General V. K. Singh rejected the accusations that the action was not taken in the cases of human rights violations by Army personnel. On 24 October 2010, he has said that 104 Army personnel had been punished in Jammu and Kashmir in this regard, including 39 officers. He also said that 95% of the allegations of human rights abuses against Indian Army were proved to be false, of which he remarked, had apparently been made with the "ulterior motive of maligning the armed forces".[78]

In December 2013, six Indian soldiers, including two officers, were due to face a court martial over extrajudicial killings.[79]

Kunan Poshpora incident

In 1991 the 4th Rajputana Rifles Unit are alleged to have entered the village of Kunan Poshpora and raped between 30 and 100 women aged between 13 and 70.[80][81] The Indian government carried out three inquiry's into the allegations and concluded that it had been a hoax. The International Commission of Jurists have stated that though the attacks had not been proven beyond a doubt, but there were credible evidence that it had happened.[82] In 2011 the State Human Rights Commission(SHRC) has asked for the case to be reopened.[83]

Other reasons


Professor of psychology, Sibnath Deb explaining the rebellious nature of the Kashmiris, says that due to the volatile scenario in the valley from 1990s, the generation gap between parents and young generations has widened. Young generations tend to blame their parents for not doing anything about the political situation. So they start experimenting with their own aggressive ways to express their suppressed feelings and would go against any authority. A well known psychiatrist of the valley, Margoob reported that since the young brains are yet to fully develop psychological mechanisms, children/adolescents are much more vulnerable to emotional actions and reactions. When they assume that they are "pushed against the wall", they get dominated by the emotions without caring for the consequences. Also youngsters easily identify with the "group" rather than with their individual identities. It leads to psychological trauma which causes antisocial behaviour and aggressive attitude. Often, this situation gets worsened by the availability of weapons and people becoming habituated to violence after long exposure to conflict. Deb remarks, the major concern is that generations of children who are growing up with chronic violence in their lives, may reach adulthood perceiving that violence is an acceptable means of resolving ethinic, religious, or political differences.[84]


The Indian National Census shows that Kashmir lags behind other states in most socio-development indicators such as literacy rates and has unusually high levels of unemployment. This contributes to anti-government sentiment.[85][not in citation given]

Human rights violations by militants

Further information: Human rights abuses by insurgents and Rape by militants

Islamic separatist militants are accused of violence against the Kashmir populace.[86][87][88] They continue serious human rights violations: summary executions, rape, and torture. In the effort to curb support for pro-independence militants, Indian security forces have resorted to arbitrary arrest and collective punishments of entire neighbourhoods, tactics which have only led to further disaffection from India. The militants have kidnapped and killed civil servants and suspected informers.[89] Human Rights Watch alleged that thousands of civilian Kashmiri Hindus have been killed over the past 10 years by Islamic militants organisations or Muslim mobs.[77] The militants committed war rape during the 1980s.[90] Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits have emigrated as a result of the violence. Estimates of the displaced varies from 170,000 to 700,000. Thousands of Kasmiri Pandits had to move to Jammu because of militancy.[91]

Notable terrorist attacks in J&K

  • July and August 1989 – 3 CRPF personnel and politician Mohd. Yusuf Halwai of NC/F were killed.[92]
  • 1989 kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed daughter of the then Home Minister of India Mufti Sayeed.
  • 1995 kidnapping of western tourists in Jammu and Kashmir – Six foreign trekkers from Anantnag district were kidnapped by Al Faran. One was beheaded later, one escaped, and the other four remain missing, presumably killed.
  • 1997 Sangrampora massacre – On 22 March 1997, seven Kashmiri Pandits were killed in Sangrampora village in the Budgam district.[93]
  • Wandhama massacre – In January 1998, 24 Kashmiri Pandits living in the village of Wandhama were massacred by Pakistani militants. According to the testimony of one of the survivors, the militants dressed themselves as officers of the Indian Army, entered their houses and then started firing blindly. The incident was significant because it coincided with former US president Bill Clinton's visit to India and New Delhi used the massacre to present a case against the alleged Pakistan-supported terrorism in Kashmir.[94]
  • 1998 Prankote massacre – 26 Hindu villagers of Udhampur district were killed by militants.
  • 1998 Champanari massacre – 25 Hindu villagers killed on 19 June 1998 by Islamic militants.
  • 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre – 30 Hindu pilgrims massacred by militants.
  • Chittisinghpura massacre – 36 Sikhs massacred by LET militants.
  • 2001 terrorist attack on Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly – On 1 October 2001, a bombing at the Legislative Assembly in Srinagar killed 38.[95]
  • 2002 Raghunath temple attacks – First attack occurred on 30 March 2002 when two suicide bombers attacked the temple. Eleven persons including three security forces personnel were killed and 20 were injured. In second attack, the fidayeen suicide squad attacked the temple second time on 24 November 2002 when two suicide bombers stormed the temple and killed fourteen devotees and injured 45 others.
  • 2002 Qasim Nagar massacre – On 13 July 2002, armed militants believed to be a part of the Lashkar-e-Toiba threw hand grenades at the Qasim Nagar market in Srinagar and then fired on civilians standing nearby killing 27 and injuring many more.[96]
  • 2003 Nadimarg Massacre – 24 Hindus killed in Nadimarg, Kashmir on 23 March 2003 by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants.
  • 20 July 2005 Srinagar Bombing – A car bomb exploded near an armoured Indian Army vehicle in the famous Church Lane area in Srinagar killing 4 Indian Army personnel, one civilian and the suicide bomber. Militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for the attack.[97]
  • Budshah Chowk attack – A militant attack on 29 July 2005 at Srinigar's city centre, Budshah Chowk, killed 2 and left more than 17 people injured. Most of those injured were media journalists.[98]
  • Assassination of Ghulam Nabi Lone – On 18 October 2005, suspected Kashmiri militants killed Jammu and Kashmir's then education minister Ghulam Nabi Lone. Militant group called Al Mansurin claimed responsibility for the attack.[99] Abdul Ghani Lone, a prominent All Party Hurriyat Conference leader, was assassinated by unidentified gunmen during a memorial rally in Srinagar. The assassination resulted in wide-scale demonstrations against the Indian forces for failing to provide enough security cover for Lone.[96]
  • 2006 Doda massacre – On 3 May 2006, militants massacred 35 Hindus in Doda and Udhampur districts in Jammu and Kashmir.[100]
  • On 12 June 2006, one person was killed and 31 were wounded when terrorists hurled three grenades on Vaishnodevi shrine-bound buses at the general bus stand.[101]
  • 2014 Kashmir Valley attacks – There were four attacks on 5 December 2014 on army, police and civilians resulted in 21 deaths and several injured. Their motive was to disrupt the ongoing assembly elections.[102]
  • 2016 Uri attack – Four armed terrorists sneaked into an army camp and lobbed grenades onto tents causing massive fire culminating in the death of 19 military personnel.



Over time the Indian government has increasingly relied on military presence to control the insurgency.[49] The military has committed human rights violations.[103] The government would often dissolve assemblies, arrest elected politicians and impose president's rule. The government also rigged elections in 1987.[26] In recent times there have been signs that the government is taking local elections more seriously.[104] The government has also funneled development aid to Kashmir and Kashmir has now become the biggest per capita receiver of Federal aid.[105]


The Pakistani central government originally supported, trained and armed the insurgency in Kashmir,[13][14][14][15][16][106] sometimes known as "ultras" (extremists),[17][18] however after groups linked to the Kashmiri insurgency twice attempted to assassinate president Pervez Musharraf, Musharraf decided to end support for such groups.[42] His successor, Asif Ali Zardari has continued the policy, calling insurgents in Kashmir "terrorists".[44]

But the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence hasn't followed the lead of the government and has continued its support for insurgent groups in Kashmir[44][45][46] although Pakistani support for the insurgency has certainly waned.[49]


Since around 2000 the 'insurgency' has become far less violent and has instead taken on the form of protests and marches.[62] Certain groups have also chosen to lay down their arms and look for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.[107]


The different insurgent groups have different aims in Kashmir. Some want complete independence from both India and Pakistan, others want unification with Pakistan and still others just want greater autonomy from the Indian government.[108]

A 2010 survey found that 43% in J&K and 44% in AJK would favour complete independence from both India and Pakistan, with support for the independence movement unevenly distributed across the region.[109][110]


Over the last two years, the militant group, Lashkar-e-Toiba has split into two factions: Al Mansurin and Al Nasirin. Another new group reported to have emerged is the "Save Kashmir Movement". Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (formerly known as Harkat-ul-Ansar) and Lashkar-e-Toiba are believed to be operating from Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir and Muridke, Pakistan respectively.[citation needed]

Other less well known groups are the Freedom Force and Farzandan-e-Milat. A smaller group, Al-Badr, has been active in Kashmir for many years and is still believed to be functioning. All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an organisation that uses moderate means to press for the rights of the Kashmiris, is often considered as the mediator between New Delhi and insurgent groups.[citation needed]


It is unclear if Al Qaeda has a presence in Jammu and Kashmir. Donald Rumsfeld suggested that they were active[111] and in 2002 the SAS hunted for Osama bin Laden in Jammu and Kashmir.[112] Al Qaeda claims that it has established a base in Jammu and Kashmir.[113] However, there has been no evidence for any of these assertions.[111][112][113] The Indian army also claims that there is no evidence of Al Qaeda presence in Jammu and Kashmir.[114] Al Qaeda has established bases in Pakistani administered Kashmir and some, including Robert Gates have suggested that they have helped to plan attacks in India.[114][115][116]


According to Sumantra Bose in his book, Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace, around 40000 (Indian estimates) to 80000 (Hurriyat estimates) civilians, separatist guerilla fighters and Indian security personnel died from the time period of 1989 to 2002 in both Kashmir Valley and Jammu . More than 4600 security personnel, 13500 civilians and 15937 militants including 3000 from outside Jammu and Kashmir (mostly Pakistanis and some Afghans) were killed in this fourteen-year period. Also in this period, 55,538 incidents of violence were recorded. Indian forces engaged in counter insurgency operations captured around 40,000 firearms, 150,000 explosive devices, and over 6 million rounds of assorted ammunition.[117]

See also


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