​A new trend: On militancy in Jammu and Kashmir

India needs more than troops to combat militants in Jammu

Updated - July 10, 2024 08:49 am IST

Published - July 10, 2024 12:20 am IST

Five Indian Army personnel were killed on July 8 after terrorists ambushed an Army convoy in Badnota village, which is 124 km from Kathua town in Jammu. The attack also came on the death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen operative Burhan Wani, who was killed in an encounter on July 8, 2016, in south Kashmir. This is the fourth terror-incident in the State within 48 hours and the latest in a series of attacks in the last few months, especially in the Jammu region, reinforcing a new trend of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir shifting towards the Rajouri-Poonch area. On June 9, terrorists attacked a bus in Reasi district killing nine pilgrims and leaving 33 injured, the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being sworn in for a third term in office. This attack on the pilgrims was a new low. This region has been quiet for over two decades now, after being a hotbed of insurgency in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was brought under control by Operation Sarp Vinash in 2003 and subsequent support from the locals, especially the Gujjar-Bakerwal community.

Recurring incidents of security forces being ambushed have resulted in casualties, which is unacceptable for a highly trained and professional force like the Indian Army. This calls for stricter adherence to standard operating procedures and improved operations. While the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) largely holds, the uptick in terror incidents is a matter of concern — more so, the shift in violence. There are many factors that may be leading to this trend. A major one is the vacuum on the ground with a large number of troops redeployed to the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh in the aftermath of the 2020 standoff with China. This has resulted in a gap in local intelligence. There is also the increased use of modern but easily available technology by terrorist groups looking to find new routes to keep the insurgency going. Botched-up security operations have also damaged the trust between the local population and the state. From foreign terrorists crossing the LoC and leading the attacks, there has been a trend now to push local militants to the forefront to give the insurgency a more home-grown face as international pressure has mounted on Pakistan. New terror groups have also come up claiming to be behind some of the attacks. These aspects present new challenges. Tackling the situation needs a multi-layered strategy beyond just augmenting troop levels. Quick and decisive action at the highest levels of the government, bringing in all stakeholders, is the need of the hour.

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