There has been a substantial spike in the number of Army casualties this year in Jammu & Kashmir with most of the Indian soldiers martyred in ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army on the Line of Control (LoC) besides encounters with terrorists in various parts of the State. The reverses have thus led the Army to redraw its strategy to deal with the volatile situation on the LoC and in the hinterland.
Twenty-six personnel have died so far in the line of duty this year while the figure stood at 12 for the corresponding period last year till mid April. As the tempo of anti-terror operations will pick up in the coming weeks in the Valley, officials have not ruled out more soldiers falling as the infiltrating ultras will try to inflict as many casualties as possible to make an impact.
The spike in casualties has come about as Pakistan is relentless in keeping the LoC active by firing at Indian Army posts in Poonch and Rajouri sectors in south of Pir Panjal ranges and in many sectors in North of Pir Panjal comprising North Kashmir. While the ceasefire violations in Poonch and Rajouri are part of Pakistan Army’s plan to dominate the LoC there, firing in North Kashmir is undertaken to provide a cover to terrorists to infiltrate from launch pads across the LoC, officials in security establishment said here on Saturday.
Apart from this factor, less snow due to mild winters this year has enabled the ultras to turn this weather pattern to their advantage. Generally, the levels of violence go down during the winter months as snow blocks all ingress routes besides making rapid movement difficult for the terrorists. Moreover, aerial surveillance and patrolling by the security forces makes it easier for them to go after the terrorists following their footprints in snow.
However, due to moderate winters this year terrorists have already stepped up their activities and officials admit even many areas in South and North Kashmir which have not witnessed unrest will also get affected in the coming weeks.
In order to counter the emerging threats and avoid casualties, the Army has adopted an aggressive posture on the LoC and is targeting select Pakistani posts. The main objective is to “inflict pain” and make the Pakistan Army realise the cost of ceasefire violations, they said.
As regards the hinterland, sources said the focus is on launching operations based on real time Intelligence to avoid collateral damage by getting into the zone with small teams and get out fast after the completion of encounter. Also, the security forces forming the anti-insurgency grid will increase their arc of patrolling in the inaccessible areas of North Kashmir to prevent foreign terrorists from moving freely. There are at least 100 to 120 terrorists including 70-80 foreigners present in the areas of Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora.
Moreover, most of the ingress routes are in North Kashmir and the Army is keen to nab or neutralise infiltrators close to the LoC or else they will spell trouble after managing to get in, they said.
These measures will be firmly in place before the forthcoming annual Amarnath Yatra and shifting of the State capital from Jammu to Srinagar next month. The Governor is likely to hold a high-level meeting shortly to review security umbrella for the annual pilgrimage, officials said. Additional companies of paramilitary forces besides more presence of the Army along the yatra route are some of the measures, they added.
Source : Daily Pioneer