Slew of attacks in J&K points to Pakistan increasing infiltration attempts since Taliban takeover in Afghanistan
Indian and Pakistani troops in February reasserted their commitment to uphold the ceasefire agreement and hold fire along the LoC, which was welcomed by both the separatist and mainstream leaders
The death of five Indian Army men including a junior commissioned officer (JCO) in an encounter at Surankote in Poonch highlights, yet again, the rise in infiltration attempts from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
After the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan on 15 August, infiltration attempts have seen a sharp uptick in Jammu and Kashmir with weapon drops via drones increasing along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to army officials, the frequency of weapons being dropped through drones has increased over the past two months.
Indian and Pakistani troops in February reasserted their commitment to uphold the ceasefire agreement and hold fire along the LoC, which was welcomed by both the separatist and mainstream leaders in Kashmir who hoped that this will “ open dialogue” to resolve the Kashmir issue.
However, at least six infiltration bids have been foiled in the past two months in Kashmir and Jammu. In Kashmir, along the mountainous Uri sector which has in the past witnessed heavy cross-LoC shelling, infiltration attempts have particularly picked up in the past two months.
The infiltration bids have picked up since 30 August, when two militants were killed after the army foiled an infiltration bid along the LoC in Poonch. On 3 September, another infiltration bid was foiled along the LoC in Poonch while at least three infiltration bids were also foiled by the troops along the LoC in Uri last month.
Defence spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Devindar Anand said the operation in Poonch is ongoing and that at least one Junior Commissioner Officer (JCO) and four other soldiers have been killed.
At least three militants are reported to be trapped in the Deri Ki Gali (DKG) sector in Poonch, a deep forest area which is known to have been used earlier by the militants to sneak into this side of the border.
Aijaz Ahmad Kohli, a Poonch resident, said that the situation along the LoC has normalised as there was no shelling witnessed for the last several months now. “Due to the cross-border shelling, we have suffered heavy damages earlier. We hope that the borders will remain calm,” he said.
According to Indian Army officials in Srinagar, even as the numbers of those who joined militants declined significantly compared to previous years, troop levels have not been reduced in Kashmir. A top army official said troops are fully geared to face “any situation.”
While several army officials in Kashmir have downplayed the role of drones in being a major threat arguing that these small objects can “cause only limited damage”, police officials have said that the drone activities have picked up to supply weapons to the militants.
A top army official said that there is a significant drop in the number of active militants from 400 around three years ago to 200 now. “We have not reduced the troops even as there is a drop in street protests. We have had no pellet injuries being reported for several months and the crowds don’t disrupt the gunfights,” he said.
In the wake of fresh infiltration attempts as well as the increase in number of civilian killings recently, security has been beefed up across Kashmir. Security has particularly been tightened around the areas of police stations, army and paramilitary camps as well as religious places of minority community members.
Four members of the minority community were killed in targeted militant attacks last week which took the number of civilians killed this year to 28.
Large metal barricades have come up at several places and one civilian was killed in a firing by a paramilitary force person after the vehicle in which he was travelling didn’t stop near a security post, an official said.
According to police the militants have used pistols to carry out civilian killings and these were pulled off by youths. These “hybrid militants” are difficult to track, security officials said.
Following increase in infiltration in Kashmir, fresh barricades have also come up in several areas particularly the commercial hub Lal Chowk after two gunfights were reported in past one week.
At least one militant was killed and a police personnel wounded in a gunfight today with the government forces in northern Kashmir area of Bandipora while another gunbattle was going on separately in southern Kashmir area of Shopian, police said.
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A Pakistani intruder was killed and another arrested on Tuesday as the BSF foiled their separate attempts to infiltrate into this side from across the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir, a spokesperson of the border guarding force said.