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Fighter jets disturbing Kashmir skies, army says ‘no information’

Nisar Dharma

Srinagar, Apr 14: For at least four days now, fighter jets flying in Kashmir skies have been causing a fear among the people, who in all parts of the Valley reported seeing and hearing the fighter jets multiple times in a day.
“They have started flying them routinely only in the last few days. The jets create a thunderous noise. I don’t know why exactly the jets are flying so regularly. Are they preparing for a war? They did not use to do it earlier,” said Mohammad Younus, a resident of Awantipora, Pulwama, in south Kashmir.
In the summer capital, Srinagar, also, the people have noticed the jets.
“I saw it today morning and heard the same sound last night,” said Arsalan Shafi, a class-10 student from uptown Natipora.
Danish Shafi, a middle-aged shopkeeper at Jawahar Nagar, said the flying of jets reminded him of the ‘90s and the early 2000.
“Then, it was a regular sight. We used to see and hear them a lot. Seeing them nowadays concerns me. Are we back to ‘90s?” he asked.
A social media user asking about the flying of jets wrote: “Anyone has an idea why multiple fighter jets are hovering over the skies of Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) for the past many days and nights? Drills? Recon? Target acquisition? Intimidation?”
Army spokesperson in the valley told The Kashmir Monitor that it could be a “routine drill”.
However, he claimed not having any information about it.
The Indian Air Force (IAF), as per the state broadcaster, was scheduled to run Gagan Shakti, a country-wide exercise, between April 8 and 22.
“The aim of this exercise is real time coordination, deployment and employment of Air Power in a short & intense battle scenario. During Gagan-shakti, Indian Air Force will exercise the entire machinery to validate its concept of operations and war waging capability,” the DD News report on its official website reads.
On April 7, The Indian Express reported that Gagan Shakti was planned by Indian Air Force (IAF) “with an eye on the two-front threat posed by China and Pakistan”.
As per the existing protocol, the report said, Pakistan has already been intimated of the exercise.
The exercise will be conducted in two separate phases for western and northern borders across India and deep over the Indian waters. More than 15,000 IAF personnel, including 300 officers, will move from their bases during the exercise which will see the involvement of over 1,100 aircraft. This would mean 3,000 to 4,000 sorties per day during the exercise.
To mention, Army chief General Bipin Rawat, back in January, had said his force was prepared for a two-front war involving Pakistan and China simultaneously.