New Delhi: The Kashmir valley has seen a sudden jump in the number of encounters with terrorists, ahead of the first anniversary of the scrapping of Article 370 on 5 August.
Overall, 148 terrorists have been killed this year in the Valley as of 30 July, but of these, 116 have been killed since April with the highest being in June, which saw 49 terrorists being killed in encounters.
The number just goes to show that terrorism continues to be the main challenge in Jammu and Kashmir, just as it was before the special status of the state was scrapped and it was divided into two union territories — J&K and Ladakh.
Successes in the last year
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the terror network has been dealt a severe blow in the last few months, as its leadership has been taken out in operations.
The “domination of the hinterland” by security forces has had a “crippling effect on the terrorist tanzeems (organisations) and, resultantly, their ability to undertake terror incidents was degraded”, said a source.
Until 30 July this year, only 70 minor terrorist-related incidents have been reported, as compared to 107 in the same period last year.
In addition, six attempts at IED blasts were foiled in the current year, as a result of the proactiveness of intelligence agencies and alertness of troops on the ground, sources said.
Synergised conduct of hard intelligence-based counter-terror operations resulted in significant successes in the past one year, they added.
“Those killed this year include 14 Pakistan terrorists and senior leaders of HM, JeM & LeT. Local recruitment is also decreasing and primarily limited to four districts of south Kashmir, giving a serious blow to nefarious designs of Pakistan to indigenise the movement and fuel unrest in the Valley,” an Army source said.
Official figures show that the terrorist strength in the Kashmir valley is now below 200.
“Attempts to spread the violence to the Doda region were also defeated by proactively neutralising the terrorists. Since August 2019, seven terrorists have been killed in Doda and Kishtwar,” the Army source said.
Security situation in numbers
Ahead of the scrapping of Article 370 on 5 August last year, the Centre had sent additional troops to J&K. Even according to conservative estimates, the number of additional troops was said to be 60,000.
The focus on security was such that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval camped in the Valley for nearly a fortnight and personally handled arrangements.
Except for sporadic protests limited to specific areas, the situation remained calmer than expected, primarily because of the heavy presence of security personnel.
Since the focus was on law and order rather than counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, the operations by the security forces were scaled down immediately after the scrapping of Article 370. The government did not want to risk the peace by carrying out a spate of operations.
Between August and December 2019, as many as 25 terrorists were killed, bringing the total number for 2019 to 152.
This year, until March end, the total number of terrorists killed was 32, but then came the jump that has taken the total up to 148, as mentioned before.
In terms of recruitment, as many as 219 local residents had joined terror groups in 2018, while the number dropped to 119 in 2019. This year, the figure stood at 74 until 30 June, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, according to the Army sources.
Lt Gen. Satish Dua (retd), former commander of the Army’s 15 Corps, under whose charge Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed, said the forces have a firmer grip on the terror infrastructure now from a security point of view.
“There is no doubt that security forces like the police and the CRPF have got a much freer hand than before. Earlier, there was a lot of political interference,” he said.
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