Srinagar: Militants in Kashmir have established new IED modules to target security forces and pilgrims in the state, officers from the Army, CRPF and J&K Police said at a joint press conference Friday. Each module is headed by a principal trainer, mostly of Pakistani origin, they said.
Senior Kashmir-based security officers said that in the course of searches conducted before and during the Amarnath Yatra, they recovered multiple IEDs meant to target pilgrims and security forces.
The revelation was followed by an unprecedented government advisory, asking pilgrims and tourists to leave the state immediately.
Inspector General of Police S.P. Pani said more than 10 serious attempts to trigger IED blasts were made in the Valley, mostly in the Pulwama and Shopian areas. However, he added that militants were attempting to expand the usage of IEDs to other parts of Kashmir, particularly in the southern part of the Valley.
Lt Gen. K.J.S. Dhillon, commander of the 15 Corps, said: “During the course of searches conducted by the security forces on the routes leading to the holy cave (Amarnath), we recovered IEDs and caches of weapons. We have been continuously getting inputs that the yatris will be targeted.”
Militants have changed tack
The officers said they had credible inputs about the existence of three IED modules, but did not reveal which outfits they belonged to, citing on-going investigations into the case.
“During the course of our investigation, we found out that the principal trainers of these modules are of Pakistani origin. The investigations are on-going,” said Pani, when asked if local militants were part of the IED modules.
However, police officials who did not wish to come on the record told ThePrint that the trainers have managed to impart IED-making techniques to Kashmiri militants as well.
According to the police sources, heavy casualties inflicted upon militant groups since 2017 have forced them to adopt strategies to cause maximum casualties. “The strategies include sniper rifles, IEDs and even mines,” said a source.
At the press conference, a sniper rifle recovered during a gun battle in south Kashmir was displayed, as was a mine.
“The mine has markings of a Pakistani ordinance factory. This is an indication how the Pakistan Army is backing militancy in Kashmir,” Lt Gen. Dhillon said.
Soon after the press conference, the state government issued an advisory asking pilgrims and tourists to return home.
“Keeping in view the latest intelligence inputs of terror threats, with specific targeting of the Amarnath Yatra, and given the prevailing security situation in the Kashmir Valley, in the interest of safety and security of the tourists and Amarnath yatris, it is advised that they may curtail their stay in the Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return as soon as possible,” the state government said in a statement.