Crescent Kashmir

Security situation in Kashmir better: Officials

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A year after Jammu & Kashmir was divested of its special status and split into two union territories, the security situation in the region has not only stabilized but also progressively improved with more support from the people, multiple army, police, and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers said.

According to government data, the number of violent incidents in Kashmir was down to 120 from January to July, compared to 198 during the same time last year. The stone-throwing incidents–102–have also significantly reduced this year. As many as 532 such incidents were reported in 2018 and 389 in 2019.

Officials said terrorists are unable to carry out grenade attacks due to a robust presence and better coordination between security forces. Only 21 grenade attacks have been reported so far this year as compared to 52 during the same period in 2019.

There may have been a significant decline in terror-related incidents as well as local terrorist recruitments but Pakistan has ramped up its activities considerably since the nullification of Constitution’s Article 370 that stripped Jammu & Kashmir of its special status on August 5 last year, one of the army officers cited above said.

A heightened infiltration activity and the Pakistani army’s cease-fire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and targeting of civilians by terror groups remain areas of concern for security forces.

Officials cited intelligence inputs and added they suggest all terror launch pads across the LoC, or the de facto border between India and Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir, are active with close to 250 terrorists waiting to sneak into Kashmir.

The tempo of anti-terror operations in the hinterland has denied terrorists space to operate even as soldiers deployed along the LoC are in a high state of alert to thwart Pakistan’s attempts to push in infiltrators, a second army officer said. The officer added counter-terror operations based on accurate intelligence have yielded results during the last one year and the security forces have killed 136 terrorists, including 14 Pakistanis, till July-end.

A third officer said the local terror recruitment remains confined to four districts of South Kashmir. Only 67 young men are believed to have joined terrorist ranks since January compared to 105 during the same time last year. The number of terrorists active in the Valley is estimated to be below 200.

There has also been a drastic reduction in improvised explosive device (IED) blasts and only four such low-intensity attacks have been reported since August 5 last year. In 2019, eight IED blasts were reported in the first seven months of the year. They included the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed in February 2019 and brought India and Pakistan on the verge of war.

Officials said the influence of separatists or terror groups in calling for bandhs has also diminished with only four strike calls this year compared to 30 in 2019. “Fewer protests have taken place this year compared to the previous two years, with the security forces being able to counter disinformation campaigns run by inimical elements by engaging with the local population,” said a fourth officer.

Officials said Pakistan-backed terrorists were trying to mount attacks on civilians to intimidate them into following their so-called Azadi narrative and to create unrest. But coordinated operations have significantly degraded their ability to carry out attacks, they added.

CRPF special director general (Jammu & Kashmir Zone) Zulfiqar Hasan said: “The security forces have been on the top in the Valley. Most of the militant leadership has been eliminated, which is a huge setback for them. Significantly, there have been very few civilian killings and recruitments of locals have come down.” He added there is better coordination between security forces and the public now. “The terrorists are not getting any support from locals.”

Hasan said the law and order incidents connected with the counter-terror operations have come down as now people do not come out in numbers to disturb the security forces. “We have not had any big such incident of locals hindering our operations.”

The fourth officer cited above said the situation has improved but warned Pakistan is likely to step up efforts to create instability in the region. “The Army’s focus is on strengthening its anti-infiltration measures to prevent Pakistan-based terrorists from sneaking into Kashmir. Our soldiers are ready to deal with any Pakistani misadventure,” he said.


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