Counter terror ops in J-K increase in lockdown
The nationwide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic did not affect counter-insurgency operations in Jammu & Kashmir. The operations were rather intensified and resulted in the killing of the highest number of terrorists belonging to different Pakistan-based outfits in April. In fact, April has been the most successful month for security forces in the last year, according to official data.
Out of 60 terrorists killed so far this year, 46% (28) were in April. The last time the Jammu and Kashmir police, army and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) eliminated so many terrorists in a month was in May 2019 (28).
Eighteen terrorists were killed in January while seven each in February and March. While 20 belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen, eight were from Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), six from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), three from Islamic State in Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) while 20 were unidentified. Some of those killed were top commanders – Jahangir Wani (HM), Sajjad Nawab Dar (JeM) and Muzzafar Ahmed Bhat (LeT). Most of them were traced to Pulwama (16) and Shopian (12) and killed in gunbattles.
An official involved in counter-insurgency operations, who did not wish to be named, said, “Pakistan-based terrorists have tried to take advantage of India’s national lockdown to foment trouble in the Valley. In fact, there were reports in 36-37 days, since lockdown was announced, that terrorists have come out of their bunkers, from inside the jungles as they were asked to intensify attacks against security forces.”
Zulfiqar Hassan, special director-general, CRPF (Jammu & Kashmir), said, “Terrorists have tried to take advantage of the lockdown but intelligence-based counter-terror operations are continuing in full swing and there is great synergy among all the forces.”
Last year, 152 terrorists were killed in Jammu & Kashmir, with 11 in April, according to official figures.
In 2018, the security forces killed 215 terrorists including 22 in April. The maximum number of terrorists killed in a month-- 39-- was in November 2018.
Pakistan has also resorted to continuous ceasefire violation in March and April to help terrorists sneak into Jammu & Kashmir. It has been trying its best to fuel terrorist activities while the world is focused on fighting the pandemic, army officials said.
Pakistan has violated the ceasefire around 1,400 times this year. This number was 3,168 in 2019 and 1,629 in 2018.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh last week asked India’s top military commanders to ensure the country’s adversary is not allowed to exploit the Covid-19 situation.
The army has been dealing with an increase in infiltration attempts by Pakistan-backed terrorists looking to stir trouble since the Centre’s move to revoke Jammu & Kashmir’s special status in August last year.