Kashmir likely to see rise in militancy after surgical strike

The Valley is set to turn into a battleground
Up in the flames: The Valley is set to turn into a battleground

If Pakistan government shows courage, then this is the time to solve both, the problem of Kashmir and that of water too. Or if not, just allow mujahideen to do their work,” wrote Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar in his write-up in the outfit’s online weekly magazine Al Qalam after India’s surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Similarly, Lashker founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed called for Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), an amalgam of 36 Pakistani rightwing outfits, to work for “the struggle in Kashmir”. “DPC shall play its active role, all parties should be invited to join the struggle for Kashmir and Pakistan’s defense,” Saeed tweeted.

Similarly, a day after New Delhi announced surgical strikes inside PoK, Saeed in a rally at Faisalabad threatened India with “a befitting response” and “a real surgical strike”. “Now it is Pakistan’s turn to give a befitting response to India. Narendra Modi will now know what is meant by surgical strikes,” Saeed said.

And if the successive militant attacks in Kashmir following the surgical strikes are anything to go by, Kashmir looks set to be turned into a battleground once again. The attack on an Army and BSF camp in Baramulla three days after the surgical strikes was successfully foiled by the alert personnel — albeit one BSF jawan lost his life in the exchange of fire.

Similarly, seven militants were killed in two separate gun battles in North Kashmir as Army foiled two infiltration bids along the Line of Control and repulsed an attack on an Army base. In the first case, the troops along the LoC in Nowgam and Rampur sectors of North Kashmir foiled three infiltration bids which killed four militants.

On October 6, troops of 20 Dogra posted at Ratan Post in Nowgam sector noticed the movement of around six militants infiltrating during the night. Army challenged them and they opened fire leading to a gun battle. Later four militant bodies were recovered from the area.

One more infiltration bid was foiled in Nowgam sector and another in Rampur sector where militants tried to sneak it but fled back to PoK after Army fired at them.

This was followed by the killing of three militants on October 6 when they tried to storm the Battalion headquarters of 30 Rashtriya Rifles of Army at Langate in Kupwara district. The Army retaliated and militants fled. Police and Army chased them, trapped them in nearby orchards where they were killed.

But as EDI attack underlines, the militants haven’t given up. The attempt appears to mount more and more such attacks to inflict casualties on the security personnel to avenge the surgical strikes if not provoke an Uri-like situation.

The security experts in Kashmir see a logic in intensifying attacks in Kashmir. ““The violence in Kashmir interiors is generally seen as routine. It doesn’t alarm the world nor does it generate pressure on New Delhi to act,” said a police official. “But at the same time it fulfills Pakistan’s goal to keep Kashmir in the spotlight and in the immediate circumstances it also avenges surgical strikes without inviting India’s retaliation”.

And if the recent trends are anything to go by, not only have more local youth joined militancy following the killing of popular militant commander Burhan Wani, the infiltration has also picked up. According to the sources in police, nearly 70 youth have disappeared in South Kashmir over the past three months leading them to conclude they might have been persuaded to take up the gun. Though many more youth have disappeared in other parts of the Valley too, all of them are not expected to have become militants.

“A significant section of those who have disappeared may have done so to escape the ongoing security crackdown against stone-throwers,” said a police officer. “Things will become clear only when situation returns to normal”. And the infiltration, he added, is to shore up the strength of the local militancy. “Local militants lack the sufficient training and the mettle to storm security camps,” the officer said. “And this is where the battle-hardened Lashker or Jaish militants from Pakistan come handy. They are called fidayeen. They force their way into fortified security camps, engage the security personnel in extended encounters to inflict heavy losses and to get the media attention before they are themselves killed”.