The Indian Army, along with other security agencies has launched a major operation to track down at least 12 militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad(JeM), who managed to infiltrate into the Kashmir valley from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) nearly ten days back. Three of their accomplices were already gunned down in an encounter with the security agencies when they carried out a ‘fidayeen (suicide)’ attack on a Jammu and Kashmir police complex in Pulwama on August 26.
The remaining dozen have fanned out in three districts of South Kashmir, as per military intelligence reports. During police complex attack, eight security personnel also lost their lives. The Army is also apprehensive that the remaining members will now go all out to target vital installations including security forces’ camps, convoys and public figures. JeM is Pakistan based terrorist outfit and has of late become very active in the Kashmir valley. Before launching any operation to ferret out these militants, Army is concerned about a possibility of collateral damages.
Officials said that as per intelligence reports, these JeM cadres are well-trained and highly motivated. Sources in the security establishment maintained that tracking these militants was proving to be difficult, as they were hiding in the densely populated districts of Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama in south kashmir. There are more than 300 big and small Army camps in South and North Kashmir apart from CRPF and local police establishments. “12 of these JeM militants have the crucial advantage of element of surprise.
They can pick their target and attack it and we have to be prepared for such an exigency,” an official said. Military officials maintained that intelligence is being collected from local police to track movement, including mobile surveillance, apart from taking preventive measures like keeping a watch on the movement outside the camps, deploying more troops to plug gaps in perimeter security and launching “speculative” operations.
“Speculative” operations means security forces conduct such drives on the assumption that terrorists may be hiding in some sensitive places.
“These operations may not yield in capture or killing of the terrorists, but pressure exerted by the security forces may force militants to commit a mistake and come out of their hiding places be it safe houses provided by their sympathizers,” said an officer. As per military estimate, more than 400 highly trained militants are ready to infiltrate into the Kashmir valley from more than 17 launch pads located close to the Line of Control (LOC) in POK.
Most of these militants belong to either LeT or JeM and the Army has padded up its patrols on the LOC. The Army has deployed four additional battalions (one battalion has 1,000 soldiers) in various districts of South Kashmir to sustain tempo of anti-terrorist operations as officials believe that Pakistan Army and ISI will make desperate attempts in the coming weeks to push in as many militants as possible, with only one and half months left before snow blocks all the ingress routes on the LOC.