Since August 2019, when the Centre revoked the special status of J&K and bifurcated it into two union territories, the security forces have intensified their operations against the Over Ground Workers (OGWs) of various militant outfits.
According to official data, more than 1,900 OGWs have been arrested in the last four years, compared to just over 500 in the previous four years.
This is a result of the coordinated efforts of the Terror Monitoring Group (TMG) and the State Investigation Agency (SIA), which the J&K administration set up to crack down on terror networks and their funding structures.
The security forces have also made extensive use of anti-terror laws, such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA), to detain and prosecute the OGWs and their associates.
The number of cases registered under UAPA has increased from 437 in 2019 to 557 in 2020, and under 500 in 2021. Over the last three years, the number of persons booked under these cases is over 2,700.
The official sources claim that this strategy of attacking the militant infrastructure has been effective in reducing the violence and the recruitment of local youth into militancy. They say that this can only be done by exposing and prosecuting the entire network, whether they are involved in logistics, funds, or propaganda.
The data shows that the number of militant-initiated incidents has come down from over 760 in the four years before August 2019 to 450 in the four years since.
The attacks on security forces have also halved from close to 600 to about 300 in the same period. However, the targeted attacks on civilians have not decreased significantly, and have remained around 150 in both periods.
The security forces have also conducted raids and seizures on the assets and properties of the people and groups suspected of funding or facilitating militancy. These include the enforcement directorate (ED) and tax raids on the Hurriyat leaders, NGOs, businessmen, and others.
The clampdown on the OGWs and their networks has drawn sharp criticism from the political parties and civil society groups in the Valley, who have accused the security forces of violating the human rights and civil liberties of the common people. They have also questioned the legality and validity of the UAPA and PSA cases and demanded their revocation.
In 2022, the J&K police set up Special Investigation Units (SIU) in each police district to deal with the high number of UAPA cases. The aim was to assign dedicated officers in every district to investigate these cases and secure court convictions.