SRINAGAR: At a time when the minorities are facing the heat of the ‘nationalist’ right-wing groups who are questioning their ‘loyalty’ to the country, at least 18 Muslim men from Jammu and Kashmir working with different armed forces have laid down their lives in insurgency-related violence this year.

According to official data accessed by The Citizen, the deceased include two Muslim CRPF men from J&K who were killed in the New Year’s eve attack on a security training centre in south Kashmir’s Lethpora in which two militants and three more CRPF personnel were also shot dead.

While the heat of Lethpora attack had not died down yet, on January 6, four Muslim policemen who were on patrol duty, were killed in an improvised explosive device blast in a market in Sopore town of north Kashmir. This was the first such IED attack in Kashmir since 2015.

This was followed by the attack on Sunjuwan military station, one of the worst after the Pathankot terror attack, in Jammu, which resulted in the killing of five Army soldiers and a civilian, all of whom were Muslims from different parts of the Kashmir Valley. The civilian was the father of one of the soldiers posted at the station.

Two Muslim police personnel were killed when suspected militants targeted a police party outside Srinagar’s SMHS Hospital last month. A top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander, Naveed Jutt, who was brought to the hospital for treatment, managed to escape from custody during the shooting.

“The slain include eight police personnel, six Army jawans, two CRPF personnel and a civilian who was shot dead by militants at Sunjuwan military station. All of them were Muslims. During the last two months, at least 23 militants have also been shot dead in counter-insurgency operations across the state,” a senior police officer said.

J&K Police, which is mostly comprised of men from Muslim background, has borne the brunt of the attacks by militants in Kashmir Valley. Last year, six Muslim cops, including an officer, were shot dead when suspected militants targeted a police party on the outskirts of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on June 16.

According to the information tabled by the Jammu and Kashmir government in the recently concluded budget session, at least 49 policemen, most of them Muslims from Kashmir Valley, were killed in various insurgency-related incidents reported from the state over the last two years.

“J&K Police, a Muslim dominated force, has been at the forefront of the battle against terror in Jammu and Kashmir. In the last three decades of turmoil, thousands of our boys have laid down their lives to protect the country,” the police officer said.

(Cover Photograph BASIT ZARGAR)