Spike in encounters in recent days as Pakistan pushes terrorists
Increased surveillance by security forces and fresh infiltration attempts — some of them successful — by militants are behind the frequent encounters in Jammu and Kashmir over the past one and a half months, according to officials.
Since March 21, at least 33 militants and two of their associates have been killed in 15 gunfights across the Valley.
Most of these encounters took place in four districts of south Kashmir — Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag, which are considered the hotbed of militancy.
Twenty security personnel lost their lives in this period. Eighteen were killed in gunfights and in attacks by militants, and two army men died on the Line of Control (LoC) in ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
A senior police officer who did not want to be named said the security grid has increased surveillance in the four districts of south Kashmir, while also keeping a close watch on the LoC.
“There is a pattern of encounters going up in the months of April and May. Last year too, several operations were seen in Kashmir during these months,” the officer said.
“March, April and May are the months when the snow starts melting on the upper reaches (of the Himalayas), and militants start infiltrating from PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) into Kashmir — which results in several encounters,” the officer added. He said with modern surveillance gadgets, security forces are registering big successes in tracking and zeroing in on militants.
Another officer, who too did not want to be named, put emphasis on the need for technology-based surveillance in anti-militancy operations, while underscoring the importance of tip-offs by sources in such campaigns.
“Once a militant comes in our radar, he is tracked through electronic surveillance, and the success is remarkable. Also, human intelligence inputs help the forces to coordinate operations in the better way,” the second officer said.
Earlier, Dilbag Singh, Jammu and Kashmir director general of police, too, cited fresh infiltration attempts reported from north Kashmir’s Uri and Kupwara sectors as reasons behind frequent encounters.
“We get to know about militants and chase them. Sometimes, we also suffer casualties during operations,” Singh said on Tuesday in an event paying tributes to three CRPF personnel.
The three troopers, deployed at a check post, were killed in an attack in north Kashmir’s Handwara town.
A section of security officials and experts believes ceasefire violations by Pakistan are a desperate attempt to foment unrest in India.
In the security grid, many consider these ceasefire violations an attempt to give a cover fire to help militants crossing over to India.
Even on Wednesday, Pakistan resorted to firing on forward areas along the LoC in two sectors of J&K’s Poonch , drawing retaliation from India, a defence spokesperson said. There was no immediate report of any casualty.
Cross-border shelling between the two sides was going on till the filing of this report.
“They (Pakistan) want the Kashmir issue alive,” Major General (retired) GS Jamwal said. “We should continue to maintain pressure...and ensure we don’t lose our men but inflict maximum damage on them.”
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