Srinagar: Militants in Kashmir have run short of weapons to launch any major attacks but have increased their movements in villages to take advantage of the public anger over the nullification of Article 370, latest intelligence inputs suggest.
There are about 250 militants in the Valley at present, senior security officials said. Each of them is supported by about five “overground workers” for logistical support but their inability to communicate with one another and with their handlers across the border has virtually “neutralised” them, they added.
“We are conscious of the inconvenience that the restriction on communications has caused to our people in the Valley but it’s for their safety only,” an official of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) said.
Since 5 August, when Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the resolution in the Rajya Sabha nullifying Article 370, these militants have been visiting far-flung villages, especially during Friday prayers, and inciting people against the government, intelligence inputs have suggested.
In the absence of the communication network, the militants have been sighted “physically moving around” and conversing with villagers.
“Their main objective is to make fresh recruitments,” said another senior functionary in the security establishment. “Our biggest worry is possible indoctrination of impressionable and vulnerable youth in the age group of 15 to 25 years.”
‘Anger will dissipate if Pakistan is contained’
Officials, however, are of the view that if Pakistan could be “contained” and prevented from doing “mischief”, the anger among the people would dissipate over a period of time as they see the “benefits” of full integration with India in terms of development and other opportunities.
The assessment of the security establishment in the state is that Pakistan has been wary of making any audacious attempts at creating trouble at this point of time because it can no longer discount Indian retaliation on the lines of the Balakot air strikes after the Pulwama suicide attack early this year.
Except for a couple of infiltration attempts in Poonch and Rajouri sectors, there hasn’t been any major push from across the border after 5 August.
“But that could also be because of the communication jam. The anger among the people may be temporary but how things will pan out from here will depend on how we are able to contain Pakistan and prevent it from creating trouble in the Valley,” said the security official quoted above.
A senior police official said there have been only two encounters since 5 August — in Shopian and Baramulla — resulting in the killing of at least four militants.
In the past couple of years, the Valley has witnessed a spate of incidents of rifle-snatching from state policemen, indicating militants’ desperation to arm themselves in the face of “drying supplies” from across the border. Officials attribute it to the stricter vigil by security forces guarding the borders.
Of the militant groups that have been active in the Valley, Lashkar-e-Taiba, officials said, seems to be making way for the Jaish-e-Mohammed. Increased activities of JeM militants have been noticed in the Valley, they added.