New Delhi: The security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir are facing a challenge as at least five incidents of terror and infiltration have taken place in the Union Territory in the last 10 days. These incidents have occurred in different regions of Jammu and Kashmir, indicating a rise in the attempts of Pakistan-backed militants to create unrest before the winter sets in. The security agencies may have to revise their winter anti-terror strategy in view of these developments.
Two of the incidents happened south of the Pir Panjal mountain range, which divides Jammu and Kashmir into two regions. The first one was in the Chasana area of Reasi district on September 7, where two militants were killed in an encounter with security forces. The second one was in the Narla area of Rajouri district on September 9, where three militants were gunned down by security forces. Both these areas are close to the Line of Control (LoC), which is the de facto border between India and Pakistan.
Three other incidents happened north of the Pir Panjal range, which is the valley region of Jammu and Kashmir. The first one was in the Uri sector of Baramulla district on September 8, where four militants were killed by security forces near the LoC. The second one was in the Hathlanga area near Anantnag district on September 11, where two militants were killed by security forces. The third one was in Baramulla town on September 16, where two policemen were martyred and three others injured in a militant attack.
According to the Indian Express, officials say that this increase in terror activities points to Pakistan’s increasing efforts to heat up Jammu and Kashmir before the onset of winter when infiltration becomes difficult in the higher northern areas due to heavy snowfall. An officer said ‘However, infiltration of terrorists from the launchpad across the LoC in the areas south of Pir Panjal is possible in every season.’
He further said ‘But due to snow and difficult hilly terrain in the Shamshbari range and Pir Panjal range running north of Lolab, it becomes difficult to enter the valley.’ The official said that entry from across the LoC is difficult in the months before winter. Efforts are being made to send more trained terrorists to India, this is also happening due to a decline in local recruitment numbers.
According to the officer, infiltration without weapons using non-traditional routes is also increasing. There have also been incidents of arms and ammunition being dropped near the LoC so that these can be picked up by terrorist associates inside the Indian border. Officials also pointed to the difficulty in immediately ascertaining the route of infiltration.
An official said ‘While Uri is located on the LoC, close to the strategic Haji Pir Pass on the Pir Panjal Range, Anantnag is located between the Pir Panjal Range and Srinagar and is accessible to terrorists infiltrating from areas south of the Pir Panjal.’ In recent days, there was news that the number of terrorists has decreased in the Kashmir region for some time, but the action of security forces is continuing.
According to data till June this year, of the total terrorists killed in the UT since 2020, 549 were local, while 86 were of foreign origin. At least 133 local terrorist recruits either surrendered or were arrested during this period. Whereas during the same period, the number of foreign terrorists was 17. Data showed that in May 2023, 36 local terrorists and 71 foreign terrorists were present in the valley. And in the same period, the number in the Jammu region was 13 local terrorists and two foreign terrorists.
The data also showed that there has been a decline in local recruitment since August 2019, when Article 370 was abrogated and Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union Territories. The data revealed that there were 219 local recruits in 2018, 119 in 2019, 67 in 2020, and only 19 in June this year.
The security agencies are keeping a close watch on the situation and are taking all necessary measures to prevent any further escalation of violence. They are also coordinating with each other and with the local administration to ensure peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir.