New Delhi: The security advisory that has Kashmir on edge was triggered by suspicion that a batch of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists succeeded in crossing the Line of Control over the past 10 days, sources in the security and defence establishment have told ThePrint.
In an unprecedented decision, the Modi government cancelled the Amarnath Yatra this week and asked pilgrims and tourists to leave the Valley.
The number of security forces posted in Kashmir was increased as well, further stoking fears of imminent danger among local residents. It also led to speculation that the Modi government was preparing the ground to revoke Article 35A that grants people of Jammu & Kashmir special privileges, and about plans to trifurcate India’s northernmost state.
However, sources told ThePrint that the real reason for the security scare was the suspected infiltration by a group of JeM terrorists, who are believed to have entered India from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
According to the sources, over the past week and a half, multiple infiltration attempts were made in various sectors along the Line of Control, including the failed bid in Keran this week, where four infiltrators – who might be Pakistani army commandos, according to the Indian Army – were killed.
“The fog in some of these areas is very dense. Multiple attempts have been made which has led to encounters. It is feared that some did manage to sneak in, taking advantage of the terrain, weather and the ceasefire violations by the Pakistani army,” one of the sources said.
The sources pointed to multiple intelligence alerts that warned of a conspiracy to attack the yatra and said any infiltration by foreign terrorists posed a serious threat.
Any attack on the yatris, the sources said, could have severe repercussions in the rest of the country, which is why the pilgrimage was cancelled altogether.
ThePrint had reported on 31 July that Pakistan was again resorting to infiltration attempts and ceasefire violations after a lull of nearly two months.
The encounter in Keran sector took place on the night of 31 July. It was triggered by an infiltration attempt by 15 men, of whom four were killed. The others are believed to have returned to Pakistan.
The Army, through the hotline, has asked the Pakistani army to take back the bodies, but Islamabad is yet to do so. Meanwhile, the bodies continue to lie in the open on the Indian side of the LoC.
Terror launchpads back
According to sources in the security and defence establishment, at least 14-16 terror launchpads are back in action across the LoC after a brief lull following the IAF air strike on the JeM facility in Pakistan’s Balakot this February.
These launchpads were briefly dismantled after the air strike as Pakistan came under the international scanner for continued support to terrorism.
“The launchpads have become active again. Infiltration attempts are being made and the Pakistani army is indulging in ceasefire violations to give them a safe passage,” a source said.
Security forces estimate that around 200 terrorists are back in PoK and more infiltration attempts will be made in the coming days.
Over the last two weeks, the intensity of ceasefire violations from Pakistan has increased, as has the calibre of weapons used. The Indian Army has responded with the same calibre, and the 155 mm howitzers – Bofors – have been used as well, like they were during another spell of ceasefire violations this April.
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