As summers start setting in Jammu and Kashmir, security forces expect more encounters and gun fights in the Valley as militants, waiting across the Line of Control, gear up for the snow to melt so that they infiltrate on the Indian side. This year, compared to the last, will witness relatively less infiltration bids.
On Saturday, the army engaged a group of militants, who were trying to infiltrate, and cornered them around Kisan post in Naugam sector of Kupwara district. The encounter, which lasted more than 24 hours, ended on Sunday evening and left seven people dead, including three soldiers.
"Two soldiers were martyred on Saturday afternoon and one terrorist was also killed but by the evening the firing stopped. It resumed on Sunday and two more terrorists were killed and one soldier was martyred," defence spokesman Rajesh Kalia told Firstpost.
"They (infiltrators) were trying to enter our side and we stopped them right at the LoC and a gunfight ensued," he added. "The search operations have been called off." The intelligence apparatus in Kashmir has warned that there is a likely possibility of an increased presence of militants (from Pakistan side) along the LoC this summer. The security agencies, according to sources, have sought help from the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) to track the militants who are waiting to infiltrate the LoC.
The Indian Army strengthened the technical intelligence gathering infrastructure, supported by NTRO, to track the movement of the militants and stop them from entering the Valley. It has, so far, yielded tremendous results. It has also made infiltration harder for the militants and an army officer told Firstpost that "only a human error can make it possible for them to enter the Valley". As the likelihood of infiltration bids continue, the gunfights along the LoC are likely to increase.
Of the 371 attempts made by the militants to infiltrate the Valley in 2016, only 119 were successful. The numbers have drastically gone down this year, with not even two dozen militants attempting infiltration in the first four months. However, Lieutenant General JS Sandhu, Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, recently said there are more militants waiting at launch pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in the areas facing Poonch and Rajouri district in Jammu than in Kashmir. About 150 militants, Sandhu said, are waiting near the LoC in PoK to sneak into the Valley.
Interestingly, there have been attempts by militants to infiltrate from South of the Pir Panjal range this year, and there have been more than 60 attempts of ceasefire violations till April. The army has been taking preemptive action to prevent infiltration. This has led to an increase in the number of ceasefire violations this year in that area.
It is an unusual shift as most of the infiltration bids used to happen from either Baramulla or Kupwara district, which together share a good part of the treacherous 740-km-long LoC, which has witnessed major tensions following the beheading of two soldiers allegedly by Pakistan army's Border Action Team (BAT) on 1 May. Defence minister Arun Jaitley last week asked troops to maintain "tight vigil" along the LoC to thwart attempts of infiltration and give "strong and befitting" reply to any misadventure from across by Pakistan. He was on a visit of the LoC in Rampur sector of Baramulla district.
With temperatures expected to rise in Kashmir in coming days, there is going to be even more heat at the borders as Pakistan pushes more militants into the already simmering Valley.
Updated Date: May 22, 2017 10:19 AM