Uri attack

Unrest robs Army of eyes and ears on ground

utmost vigil: A Kashmiri woman looks on as policemen check her car in Srinagar after the attack at Uri.   | Photo Credit: Mukhtar Khan

Even as Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists stormed an Army camp in Uri killing 17 personnel, a senior Home Ministry official said the security establishment was grappling with intelligence gathering in the Valley.

The three-month unrest has left a huge vacuum on the intelligence front as several areas were put under curfew, affecting the movement of informers, the official said.

“The prolonged curfew has ensured that the informers cannot reach out to their handlers. There is a breakdown in communication channels and it is difficult to get any specific information these days; the informers avoid venturing out for the fear of being identified and killed,” said the official.

The official said the terrorists’ plan to target the Army’s administrative block in Uri was in consonance with JeM’s previous attacks on security establishments including the Pathankot airbase on January 2.

“The terrorists are careful in not using phones and the only reliable information we used to get on their movement was from local informers. The human intelligence network has suffered a lot,” said the official.

Spike in infiltration

Not only violent protests, the Valley has also witnessed an unprecedented spike in infiltration bids since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.

From three major infiltration bids reported in May and June, 16 were foiled by the Army between July and September.

Ninety-five per cent of the bids were aborted in north Kashmir’s Kupwara and Baramulla districts, a traditional route.

At least 24 infiltrators were killed by the security forces’ counter-infiltration grid on the Line of Control since July when the Valley’s hinterland has been on the boil. Eight soldiers lost their lives. Police sources said that most infiltration bids were foiled and the recoveries made, including Global Positioning System (GPS) devices with specific coordinates, indicated that militants were aiming at high-value targets.

Police sources said the militants were trying to augment the ranks of local militants, recruited after Wani’s killing, ahead of winter to keep the Valley unsettled during that season too.

Of late, indigenous Hizbul Mujahideen recruits have outnumbered Lashkar-e-Taiba’s depleting ranks.

Local recruits

Infiltrating LeT militants, sources said, were trying to rope in local boys to emerge as the most influential militant group in the Valley, capitalising on the rising anger and desperation among the youth. “All militant groups are in a race to cash in on the growing alienation,” said a top police officer.

The Chief of the Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, visited frontier posts in north Kashmir on September 8 after the rising number of incidents of infiltration.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 8:12:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Unrest-robs-Army-of-eyes-and-ears-on-ground/article14522349.ece

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