At least 586 people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018, making it the deadliest year in the state in a decade, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society said in its annual human rights review report on Monday.
According to the report, 160 of the 586 people were civilians, 267 were suspected militants, and 159 were members of the armed forces and the state police. Eighteen women and at least 31 children – the highest in the last decade – were among the civilian casualties.
The number of deaths of suspected militants also touched decade-high numbers. In 2016, 145 such were deaths recorded. It rose to 216 last year.
Most civilian deaths occurred in South Kashmir as the area continued to witness a surge in violence in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July 2016. The four districts in the region – Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian – recorded 85 civilian killings, the highest across state.
The North Kashmir districts of Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora recorded 24 civilian killings, while the Central Kashmir districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal and Budgam saw 13 civilian being killed.
The civil society organisation noted an increase in incidents of security forces using excessive force on civilians, with 191 such incidents being recorded. “The use of force on civilian demonstrators by armed forces in the situation emerging out of encounters with militants led to 40 extra-judicial executions,” it said.
At least 108 instances of internet blockade and the murder of 11 political activists in acts of targeted violence were also reported. “This year also witnessed multiple attacks on the family members of policemen, political activists and militants,” the report said.
Citing the murder and alleged rape of a girl in Kathua earlier this year, the report said sexual violence as a “weapon of war” continued to be prevalent in the state with even Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Poonch being accused of rape. The coalition said it submitted a petition to the State Human Rights Commission in February, listing 143 cases of sexual violence in the state. “But till now no progress has happened,” the civil society organisation added.