Srinagar, Dec 31: Come 2020, security forces are bracing up for a decisive battle against militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
From acquiring new weapons to fine-tuning intelligence techniques, security forces are trying everything in their arsenal to deal a final blow to militancy in 2020.
Post abrogation of Article 370 and reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, Centre is directly handling the situation in the Union territory. Sources said focus has shifted to eradicating rather than containing militancy in 2020.
“I do not want to use words like decisive. There will be challenges. We hope 2020 is peaceful. Challenges of law and order, and militancy, to a certain extent, will remain”, said Ravideep Sahi, Inspector General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Srinagar Sector.
Post abrogation of Article 370, anti-militancy operations have been hit hard in the valley. Less than a dozen gunfights were witnessed in four months leaving 18 militants dead. Prior to August 5, security forces had gone all out killing 105 militants.
Maximum 28 militants were killed in May, two months after a 21 year old local suicide bomber Adil Dar, carried out the deadliest attack when he rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF convoy along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway at Lethpora-Pulwama, killing 40 personnel and injuring dozen others on February 14.
Security forces went all guns blazing out against Jaish-e-Mohammad and killed local “key conspirator” of the attack almost a month later. Over 50 militants of the group, including the operational chief of the Jaish, were killed in encounters.
Around 31 security men, including some officers, were also killed in the operations. Many senior officers were wounded in gunfights. As many as 80 security personnel have been killed in Kashmir region till December.
“The security review is a continuous process. Depending on the ground dynamics and emerging trends our responses are fine-tuned”, said Sahi.
Post abrogation of Article 370, security forces have been battling heightened tensions and over 50,000 additional forces were inducted into the Valley to ensure peace.
However anti-militancy grid was hit hard as information about the militants dried up. “Although we have got successes against militants, yet we should continue our efforts with coordinated strategies to ensure long lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Collective measure needs to be taken to tackle any situation and subversive act by militants”, Dilbag Singh, director general of Jammu and Kashmir police, recently told his officers.
Experts however said internet blockade badly impacted the fight against militancy in 2019. “Internet is not functioning and that might have hampered overall intelligence system. That must have affected (anti-militancy operations)”, said Dr SP Vaid, former director general of police, Jammu and Kashmir.
Not only hinterland, there have been very few gunfights along the Line of Control in 2019. Last year 60 militants were killed on LoC while trying to infiltrate.
However tensions escalated on the LoC post August 5 with both armies targeting each other on regular basis. Official figures reveal there have been 3200 ceasefire violations on the LoC in 2019 compared to 1629 in 2018. In August, 307 ceasefire violations were reported on LoC followed by 351 in September, 351 in October and 304 in November. Earlier in January February, March, April, May, June and July, 205, 215, 267, 234, 22,181 and 296 ceasefire violations were recorded on LoC respectively.
Post abrogation of Article 370, civilian killings by unidentified gunmen have increased. In October, data shows that 15 civilians were killed — highest in a month this year. Of them, 11 were non-local laborers, truckers and traders who were shot dead in volatile south Kashmir. Of the 50 civilian killings were reported this year, a majority were killed by unidentified gunmen.
Enter 2020; security forces want to leave behind the last year’s reverses to take on militants with iron fist. “There should be a decisive fight against militancy in 2020”, said Dr Vaid.