Srinagar: Senior Army officers and Jammu and Kashmir police personnel said on Friday that the number of active militants in 2021 was the lowest since militancy started in the Union Territory.

Addressing the media after the killing of six militants and a soldier in two separate encounters in Kulgam and Anantnag, top army and police officers said that while the number of total militants active was less than 200, the count of local counterparts was around 85-86 only in 2021.

Asked whether the number of militants is rising, Lt General D.P. Pandey, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 15 Corps, said, "The numbers this year has reduced. There is a very interesting trend which has come to light that I thought I should share with you all.

"Senior youth who are beyond 20, 21 or above are not joining militant ranks. Finding it difficult to get youth to join from this age group, they have started to recruit in the age pocket of 15 to 16.

"The second trend is that the militants are no longer proud of themselves for picking up weapons. So they are not declaring their names and are hiding their identity. It was very clear and evident in a recent operation, which came under spotlight for various reasons when all family members belonging to an over ground worker (OGW) network or militants came out in open and claimed innocence."

Pandey further said: "So today I feel that the society doesn't want to accept OGWs or militants in their houses and proximity. Majority of the operations which happened this year were based on human intelligence, which is another trend. We have been able to breach the 200-mark which is an achievement in itself."

Vijay Kumar, IGP (Kashmir), said that it is for the first time in the history of J&K that number of active militants has reduced to less than 200.

"It is also for the first time that the number of active local terrorists has come down to less than 100. There are around 85-86 militants left after yesterday's encounter. However, increase in the number of encounters does not mean rise in militancy. It means proactive action on our part. Militancy is not increasing, but declining.

"In the summer, foreign militants hide in the higher reaches and they come down with the onset of winter, which is a good thing for us," Kumar said.