Behind the growing presence of Jaish-e-Mohammad in Jammu & Kashmir, police see a change of strategy from Pakistan after “increased, repeated international scrutiny of Lashkar-e-Toiba and it chief Hafiz Saeed”.
A report by J&K police says that while the LeT may reduce its operations in the Valley, Pakistan is reviving Jaish to give some “breathing space” to Hizb-ul Mujahideen and LeT. The report, prepared two weeks ago by the intelligence wing of the state police, has been circulated to all district police officers by the police chief.
“The reason for Jaish-e-Mohammad coming to the forefront (of militancy in valley) may be due to the increased and repeated international scrutiny of LeT and its chief,” says the report. “The recent development of Pakistan declaring Hafiz Saeed a terrorist under global pressure and reports that Pakistan government is taking over all the facilities, offices and seminaries that belong to JuD (Jamat-ud-Dawa) and FIF (Falah-e-Insan Foundation), the LeT might lessen its role by providing logistical support to Jaish for executing attacks.”
The report speaks of a “rare collaboration” between Lashkar and Jaish in the Valley. “There are reports of terrorists from LeT and JeM having met days before the Fidayeen attack on the CRPF camp suggesting the strike might have been the result of a rare collaboration between the two,” reads the report. “While there have been occasions where LeT provided logistic support to indigenous terror groups such as Hizb-ul Mujahideen, its collaboration with JeM signals a shift in Valley’s insurgent landscape”.
The report warns of more coordinated attacks by Jaish and LeT. It suggests the reason for revival of Jaish in the Valley is heavy losses suffered by Hizb and Lashkar last year.
“The year 2017 witnessed heavy losses to terrorist outfits especially LeT and Hizb as their top commanders were killed,” it says. “The Pakistan-based handlers of terrorists have started reviving Jaish cadres in valley and the main motive of carrying Fidayeen type attacks is to push security forces on backfoot in order to give some breathing space to Hizb and LeT.”
While Jaish had very little or no presence in the Valley in 2016, the militant outfit has taken the centre-stage of militancy of late. The outfit has carried four Fidayeen attacks — three in the Valley and one in Jammu — in the last eight months.
For many years now, the outfit didn’t have any members at local level, but it has since managed to recruit several youth in south Kashmir. In fact, two of the three Fidayeen who stormed a CRPF commando training centre in Lethpora, South Kashmir, were local recruits.
Police sources say the outfit’s commander, three-foot-tall Noor Mohammad, was behind the revival of the outfit in the Valley, especially South Kashmir. Mohammad was killed in an encounter in December last year.
“This event (Lethpora Fidayeen attack) marks as psychological comeback of Masood Azhar into Kashmir by not only getting executed a well thought out suicide mission but using Kashmiris for the carnage,” the police report points out.