Guns continue to remain silent along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir between India and Pakistan with the ceasefire understanding between the two sides holding ground, with officials estimating that this will hold for the next few months before winter sets in. However, local recruitment remains a cause for concern as shown by data and acknowledged by officials.
“There has been no increase in Cease-Fire Violations (CFVs). This year, there has been none. At least in the Kashmir Valley, there have been no incidents of CFV,” Lt. Gen. D.P. Pandey, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps said a day before.
At the same time there were only two infiltration attempts and were not supported by Pakistan by providing firing cover. “One was neutralised in Bandipora recently. Another operation is on in Baramulla’s Uri for the past 24 hours after we felt an infiltration attempt was made,” Lt. Gen. Pandey said. “Frankly speaking, there has been no instigation from across the border…,” he stated.
As per data from the Army, there were 4,645 CFVs in 2020, 3,168 in 2019 and 1,629 CFVs in 2018. In contrast, there are 592 CFVs this year till the commitment came into effect on February 25.
With winter about to set in in couple of months when the high altitude passes would be blocked by snow, the ground assessment is that the situation would remain silent barring a few infiltration attempts. If so, it would mean one of the quietest years along the LoC in many years.
The situation is also impacted by regional and global developments; the sudden U.S. pull-out from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover as also Pakistan’s listing in the Financial Action Task Force. These will continue to keep Pakistan occupied as they need their full attention, one officer on the ground said.
In a conversation between the Director Generals of Military Operations over the established hotline on February 22, both sides agreed on “strict observance of all agreements, understandings and ceasefire along the LoC and all other sectors” with effect from the midnight of February 24/25, a joint statement had said.
‘60-70 foreign terrorists in Kashmir’
However, local recruitment and violence continues in the Kashmir valley with data showing only partial reduction. As per data, the local recruitment in 2019 was 119 and in 2020 it was 186. This year, till June-end the number stood at 79.
Talking of this aspect, Lt. Gen. Pandey said there were an estimated 60-70 foreign terrorists in the valley, “who are basically Pakistanis” and their strategy was not to carry out attack themselves but force locals to involve in some activity and get killed in encounters. “This results in angst among the local militants’ family and friends against us. That seems their strategy,” he added.
As for the number of terrorists neutralised, as of end August, 110 terrorists were killed in Kashmir this year with the lowest at three in January and the highest in July at 33. In comparison, 221 terrorists were neutralised in 2020, 153 in 2019 and 215 in 2018.