As many as 37-40 civilians have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir every year since 2017, Union Ministry of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The minister was responding to a question by Congress leader KC Venugopal, who asked if civilian killings in the Union Territory had increased recently. Venugopal also asked if these killings had led to insecurities among outsiders and what steps the government had taken to address the concerns.

In his reply, Rai said that despite militants targeting some civilians, a large number of migrant workers continued to stay in the Kashmir Valley, but have “left as usual” on the onset of winter.

“Also, a large number of tourists have visited Jammu and Kashmir during the last few months,” he said.

The minister said that central government has taken several steps to ensure the safety of civilians, including setting up a security and intelligence grid.

“Day and night area domination, patrolling and proactive operations against terrorists are being carried out,” Rai said. “Besides, round the clock checking at nakas [check posts] and road opening parties [security forces’ teams which cordon off areas] have been adequately augmented at strategic points to thwart any terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir.”

In October, several civilians, including migrant workers, had been shot dead by militants in the Union Territory. Amid the spate of killings, the police had moved migrant workers to security camps.

In reply to another question asked in the Rajya Sabha on December 8, the minister had said that 96 civilians were killed in Jammu and Kashmir after Article 370, which provided for special status of the erstwhile, had been revoked in August 2019.