Kashmir unrest: Security forces to rework counterinsurgency strategy to reduce casualties

A new strategy to carry out counterinsurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to come into effect soon, after Army Chief General Bipin Rawat warned protesters in the state of "tough action", signalling them to avoid creating “hurdles” during operations and helping “terrorists escape”.

The rising number of casualties among the forces is giving sleepless nights to the security establishment in Jammu and Kashmir, forcing them to re-visit their strategy in the insurgency-hit state.

Eighteen people, including seven soldiers and eight militants, were killed in the last three days in different anti-militancy operations across the Kashmir valley.

Representational photo. PTI

Representational photo. PTI

Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, SP Vaid told Firstpost that evaluation and analysis of the counterinsurgency operations carried out by forces happens from time to time.

“It is a continuous process. We are trying to deal with it and trying to find out ways and means to minimise casualties,” Vaid said.

“Every aspect is studied and analysed to make sure that the number of fatalities is brought down to zero,” he added.

The security establishment is going back to the fundamentals, trying to come up with fresh strategies to deal with the militants, who have been able to inflict a large number of casualties upon both the state police and the army, in the recent months.

During their thorough analysis of recent counterinsurgency operations, the government forces have found that most of the casualties reported were incurred in the first assault carried out against the militants.

The security establishment is now re-devising their approach to neutralise the militants’ surprise element, in a bid to avoid damages.

“Most of times the casualties happen in the first push during the operation,” a senior police official, who has carried out dozens of counter insurgency operations in the Valley, said. There is a rush, he says, to wind up the operation as soon as possible to avoid confronting the locals, who throng the encounter sites; a trend which has picked up since January.

“The local population is preventing us from conducting the operations, at times even helping the terrorists escape. It is these factors which are leading to higher casualties among the security forces,” Rawat said in New Delhi. “They do not relent and create hurdles in our operations... we will take tough action,” he added.

After months of violent protests had subsided in Kashmir, security forces had intensified counterinsurgency operations in recent weeks, which has left scores of militants, both local and foreign, dead.

But every time a counterinsurgency operation was carried out, the forces were met with stiff resistance from the locals who throng encounter sites and throw stones at the forces to help the militants escape.

Four terrorists were killed in separate encounters in the Valley on Tuesday. Four army personnel, including a Major, were also killed in the encounters at Handwara and Bandipora.

Updated Date: Feb 16, 2017 18:41 PM

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