The Army on Monday said that 191 local youth joined various militant outfits in Kashmir in year 2018. As per Army figures, 126 locals joined militancy in 2017, 88 in 2016, 66 in 2015 and 53 in 2014. From 53 the number has increased to 191, almost four times in the last five years. There was said to be a surge in youth joining militancy after the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in July 2016. But as the Army figures suggest, the constant rise since 2014 are indicative of a different trend. In 2014 and 2015, there was change of guard in both New Delhi and Srinagar. While as in New Delhi, the Modi government came to power in 2014 and the PDP-BJP coalition government was formed in 2015 after initial delays and parley. Both the union and state government assured that the governance will be according to the drafted agenda. However, a tough posture by New Delhi particularly after the Pathankot and Uri attacks led to the constriction of space for political engagement. It was intensified by stepping up the counter-insurgency operations, a move that was later dubbed “Operation All-Out”. Instead of curbing militancy in Kashmir, the operations have spelled a disaster as far as policy is concerned. In years preceding 2014, the figures clearly reveal that the erstwhile UPA government had done well in terms of curbing militancy in Kashmir. In 2010, 54 youth had joined militancy. In 2011, it dropped to 23, in 2012 it was 21 and in 2013 only 16 youth had joined militancy. The figures have been provided by a senior Army official, and there is no way the union government can refute or misinterpret what the figures mean. If the policy of the government ends up creating more militants at the end of the year, how can it be defended? In the last four years the ostentatious display of military might in Kashmir, as was pointed out repeatedly, was fraught with danger. Despite the visits of some delegations and union government appointing Dineshwar Sharma as its special representative, they have not been able to cut the ice. Overall it reflects the political immaturity, which might be because of the wrong advice of those who share the power corridor. Even PM Modi’s Sunday visit passed along as an anonymous event without any fanfare and serious engagement. It may not suit the political cadre to admit the failure in Kashmir in the last over four years, particularly as elections draw near, but the truth is out and unambiguous. The counter-point that 257 militants were killed in Kashmir last year does not translate to victory; from 53 recruitments to 16, the UPA government did way better. It is also related to the policy difference of choosing violence over engagement.