150 highly trained foreign terrorists in Kashmir Valley, say experts
According to the government data, 13 of the 68 terrorists killed in Jammu & Kashmir this year were foreigners. Foreign terrorists accounted for 31 out of 156 killed in gun battles with security forces in the Union Territory last year.Updated: May 07, 2020 05:45 IST
Around 150 highly-trained foreign terrorists mostly belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are active in the Kashmir Valley, two people involved in counter-insurgency in the region said on Wednesday amid a spike in the violence there.
Four terrorists, including Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo who carried a bounty of Rs 12 lakh on his head, were killed in gun battles with security forces in Kashmir on Wednesday. Security forces have intensified operations in Kashmir amid a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown and killed at least 36 terrorists since late March. Around 20 soldiers, including a high-ranking army officer, have been killed during the same period.
According to the government data, 13 of the 68 terrorists killed in Jammu & Kashmir this year were foreigners. Foreign terrorists accounted for 31 out of 156 killed in gun battles with security forces in the Union Territory last year. According to the data, 219 locals joined militancy in Kashmir in 2018, 119 in 2019 and 35 this year till date.
The presence of the higher number of foreign terrorists in the Valley has particularly set alarm bells ringing among the security forces and intelligence agencies. A large number of them are believed to have infiltrated into India in April. Close to 150 local militants were also active in the Valley.
Most of the foreign terrorists are usually holed up in Pulwama, Anantnag, Kupwara, Shopian, Kulgam and Baramulla districts and they try to attack camps of security forces or their patrols.
“The presence of over 150 FTs [foreign terrorists] in the Valley that too in the first four months of the year is worrisome. This number is likely to swell with the opening of infiltration routes as over 250 terrorists are waiting at the launch pads across the border,” said one of the officials cited above.
The second counter-insurgency official said the foreign terrorists are getting support from locals while they hide for weeks in different villages.
A large number of foreign terrorists are believed to be a part of the new outfit called The Resistance Front (TRF) created by the Pakistan army and spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence in response to the nullification last year of the Constitution’s Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Indian agencies believe TRF is the LeT’s new name as Islamabad faces international scrutiny over the terror groups sheltered in Pakistan. Terror groups have changed their names in the past too in similar situations.
Lt Gen Satish Dua (retd), a former commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, said Pakistan has been trying to step up its activities in the Valley after Article 370 was nullified. “There was no internet for so many months. So, there was no communication. The intelligence about the movement of FTs was weak as well as these terrorists were also not moving much. But they are under pressure to carry out strikes,” Dua said, referring to the communications blackout imposed last year to check protests against the nullification. Dua said through moves like creating TRF, terror groups were trying to “repackage their methodology and aggregate various groups”.