The chief of the army’s Northern Command raised concerns over the recent militant attacks in Srinagar and feared that Jammu and Kashmir may be set for a hot summer.
“The infiltration this year is more than normal and more trained terrorists are being pushed in to join the ranks of local militants,” Lt Gen DS Hooda, the Northern Command chief, told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.
The killing of three policemen in the heart of Srinagar on Monday punctured the peace that has been prevailing in the state’s summer capital.
“It is a matter of concern that the attack took place in high tourist season,” said Hooda, the senior-most army officer in the state. “We will have to wait and watch to see if it is a trend but the attack took place during peak tourist season.”
Infiltration figures for 2016 have touched 45 for the first four months, a sharp spike from the 35 terrorists who crossed the Line of Control in 2015, according to the army.
While South Kashmir has seen hundreds of educated Kashmiri youth take to the gun, few of them have set their eyes on Srinagar. Security establishment officials believe that since the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) took credit for the attacks, it was in all likelihood carried out by locals, which means they are expanding beyond their bastion of South Kashmir that is also the stronghold of the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“It is worrisome that the youth who are supposed to be a part of the nation’s development are joining the ranks of the militants. They know they will live for six to 12 months once they join militancy but that they still do is worrisome,” Hooda said.
The commander had earlier offered to help rehabilitate young militants if they gave up the path of violence but none came forward to surrender. To the contrary, support for these recruits is on the rise as is evident from the number of people turning up for their funerals.
In a disturbing new trend, the locals agitate and try and curtail the movements of security officials during counter-insurgency operations.
An intelligence official said: “Attacks on local policemen will lead to demotivation within the force and that is something we cannot afford, for the local police is key for counter-insurgency ops.”