This week we looked at the deaths in Jammu Kashmir since the beginning of the insurgency in 1989. This is a highly contentious issue and I am sure a lot of people will disagree with the absolute number of deaths. First and foremost a note about the source- we used data compiled by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program run by the University of Uppsala in Sweden. The program compiles data about armed conflict around the world for use by researchers, journalists, and policymakers. This was our source of choice since it gives a fairly unbiased account of the conflict. However, per this data, the total deaths recorded are almost 20,000. Towards the high end, some (the separatist Hurriyat for e.g.) claim this number is more than 100,000. The Government of India's official death toll estimate is 47,000 from way back in 2008. This is sure to have crept up since. One reason why Uppsala's estimate is so low is that they have compiled the data using published news and official statements. In any case, the sobering fact remains that the toll on human life has been immense and tens of thousands of civilians have perished in this conflict. This does not even take into account thousands of people who have disappeared.
We would encourage our readers to look at the trends and insights we can draw from these. As you can see the deaths have significantly slowed in recent years. But the death of Burhan Wani last week and the ensuing violence, as well as growing unrest among the youth in the last couple years are worrying signs. You can see the right end of the tail of the chart kicking up. This needs to be addressed before the insurgency gains back its strength and throws the valley into chaos again. The spike in 1999 is due to the Kargil war and the following years show the aftermath of the war.
The state has not seen a lot of of reforms or economic investments in the past decade. Last November PM Modi did announce an INR 80,000 Crore package for Jammu Kashmir but its too early for any real fruits of the initiative to be evident. Here is to hoping that the current government will use a more conciliatory and economic approach towards diffusing the tensions and returning peace to the troubled state.