Sunjuwan attack raises doubts over claims of militancy-free Jammu; overground workers, infiltration keeps terror alive

The attacks on the army camps in Jammu region in the past, including Saturday’s assault on Sunjuwan military station in which at least five army men were killed, has raised several questions over the claims made by the security agencies that Jammu has been turned into a militancy-free zone.

Inspector General of Police, Jammu range, SD Singh Jamwal, said that the number of militants in the region has now been restricted to 3, who operate in the Doda-Kishtwar areas. He said that militancy has been curbed in Jammu region for the past few years. Another senior police official said that 3 active militants belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit.

The Sunjwan army camp in Jammu was attacked by JeM militants on Saturday. PTI

The Sunjwan army camp in Jammu was attacked by JeM militants on Saturday. PTI

In contrast to Jammu, a total of over 200 militants are active in Kashmir with the recruitment of militants picking up since July 2016 after the killing of Hizbul commander , Burhan Wani.

Although the number of active militants was only 3 in the region, the attacks on heavily fortified army camps in last one year has revealed the presence of a strong over ground workers (OGWs) network assisting the militants to plan these attacks, police officials said.

A police official said that the militants who managed to sneak into the army camp with heavy ammunition had made an elaborate plan for the attack, "which couldn’t have been pulled off without the support of local OGWs."

"The militants carried out a reconnaissance of the area for some days before mounting an assault. The incident has shown that militants are able to carry out attacks anywhere in Jammu with support of OGWs," he added.

Moreover, even though the militants' presence was not as heavy in Jammu as it it is in Kashmir — where the militants also carry out training in the local forest areas — security forces believe the constant shelling along the International Border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC) in the region "was helping out in the infiltration".

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Jammu, Vivek Gupta, said that there was a possibility that the militants who attacked the Sunjuwan camp may have recently crossed the border from Pakistan.

"The militants could reach most of the Jammu city areas within few hours after crossing the border," he said, adding however that the "investigation in the attack was going on."

But the attack on Sunjuwan camp, which has prompted the security agencies to maintain a state of high alert in the Jammu region, isn't the only instance of successful militant attacks. In November 2016, heavily armed militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) had attacked the field regiment of army in Nagrota resulting in the killing of seven army men and three militants.

In January 2017, militants killed three labourers working for the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF) after attacking their camp close to the International Border(IB) in Akhnoor.

Meanwhile, security officials further see the constant firing by the Pakistani troops along the LoC and IB as a "bid to push in the militants." On Friday a woman was killed as Pakistani troops fired on civilian habitations in Poonch area of Jammu region, while firing continued on Sunday.

In the several incidents of border shelling and firing in 2017, at least 30 people were killed, including the army and BSF men along the LoC and International Border — with most number of casualties inflicted in the Jammu region. As per the government statistics along the near 221 kilometre IB in Jammu and Kashmir the number of ceasefire violations in 2014, 2015 and 2016 were 430, 253 and 221 respectively.

However even as the security officials have increased the vigil both along the LoC and IB after the Sunjuwan encounter, they said that the situation was not "as difficult in the region as was for nearly 20 years between 1990 to 2010."

The Border Security Force (BSF) personnel have increased the vigil along the border under 'Operation Alert' to prevent the militants from sneaking in from across the border, while a general security beef up has been ordered in the Jammu region.

"The regions of Doda-Kishtwar and the Poonch-Rajouri had seen heavy incidents of militancy previously, which has been curbed now," a security official said.


Updated Date: Feb 13, 2018 08:03 AM

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