On Monday, unknown militants shot at a sarpanch in Anantnag area of south Kashmir. Ajay Bharti was associated with the Congress party. Many such assassinations of panchayat members have happened in the Kashmir Valley but after a very long time a Kashmiri Pandit was targeted.
It is proving out to be a rather hot summer in Kashmir. Tensions over militancy and anti-insurgency have been soaring. Close to 100 militants have been killed in Kashmir this year till May. There are clear indications of this being a very active year in Kashmir.
Even as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country, including Jammu and Kashmir, militants have been targeting security forces, civilians and activists. Sensing the situation, security forces have also upped the ante against the threats.
Rise In Militant Activity & Encounters
Encounters have been taking place in Kashmir almost every second day and mostly in south Kashmir. More than 14 militants have been killed in last four days including five on Wednesday.
“Over the last couple of months we have been getting intelligence reports of their plans to attack security forces, carry out kidnappings, IED attacks etc. Our operations have managed to thwart those plans,” said Rajesh Kumar, IG CRPF while speaking to the media.
After the big decision on abrogation of Article 370 in August 5, 2019, there were apprehensions about possibilities of increase in militancy in the Kashmir Valley. Sources believe attempts by the terror groups to push their men from across the borders have gone up. Many infiltrations have been successful as well.
Even though the security grid feels the situation after Article 370 on the civilian front was managed well, checking the level of militancy has been a challenge. South Kashmir is emerging as the hotbed.
Most of the militancy-related activities and the anti-insurgency operations are taking place in this belt. “I would not like to use terms like success but these are definite steps we are taking in the right direction, at the end of it I would go back to the issue that we are here because the population or the government is inconvenienced, so any militant neutralised will bring normalcy,” said Lt Gen BS Raju, Corps Commander 15 while speaking on the recent increase in the number of encounters.
He further added that when it comes to South Kashmir alone there is a figure of close to 125 active militants. Among these there are around 100 locals while others are foreign nationals.
IED Attack By Jaish
Last month, security forces recovered a car, which had more than 45 kilograms of explosive material stuffed in the vehicle. The police said that this was a plan to carry out an attack similar to the one in February 2019, in which a CRPF convoy was targeted in Pulwama and 40 jawans were killed. One of the IED experts of Jaish-e-Mohammed has been killed recently in an encounter and he was believed to have been behind the planning of the latest car attack.
The threat however is far from over as sources believe there are at least two more such IED experts in Jaish-e-Muhammad are active in south Kashmir.
Security forces have also noted that there is an attempt of giving the militancy a local colour. Security agencies feel the emergence of new groups like TRF (The Resistance Front) is a step in that direction.
Most of the attacks that have taken place in the last few months in the Kashmir Valley have been claimed by this entity called TRF. “We believe there is no such organisation. It is a social media entity, which is trying to take credit for everything. TRF is nothing but a mirror image of groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and others,” said Lt Gen BS Raju.
More than 90 militants have been killed in the last six months. In just about one week the number of such militants has gone down by around two dozen after various encounters. Security forces have also suffered losses. In May, the Army lost a colonel and 4 other personnel in just one encounter in Handwara.