J&K: MAINTAIN THE MOMENTUM

The period from January to July 2017 has been marked by the elimination of large number of terrorists, raising the tally to over 120 terrorists and at long last, the apprehension of the separatists’ henchmen involved in funding and organising terrorist and stonepelting/ heckling activities. Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen. Devraj Anbu attended the ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ ceremony at Drass, to honour the martyrs and interacted with some of their families and other war heroes present. Speaking to media at Drass, he assured that a Kargil-like situation will not be allowed to happen again and that the troops are totally prepared to meet any eventuality.

Regarding the overall security situation in the Kashmir Valley, Lt Gen Anbu said it was because of the close coordination of the Army and all related organisations/agencies that security forces eliminated 36 terrorists, including some self-styled commanders in the Valley during the past three months. He added that relations between the people in Kashmir and Indian Army were strengthening day by day and as a result, more than 14,500 students are getting education in 45 Army Goodwill Schools all over Jammu and Kashmir. “This has helped more than 1,000 local youths to get employment,” he said. Without naming China, he said, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Ladakh is disputed as it has not been demarcated yet. Also present was GOC 14 Corps, Lt Gen. P. J. S. Pannu.

A comparison of ceasefire violations, infiltration bids and casualties in 2016 and 2017, all till end of July, is relevant. There were 248 violations in 2016 and 368 in 2017. In both years till July, 20 terrorists each were eliminated. 40 infiltration attempts were foiled by Army in 2016 and 19 in 2017. Terrorists killed during infiltration attempts were 55 in 2016 and 54 in 2017. Personnel of Army and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) martyred in 2016 were 61 and 35 whereas in 2017, there have been 40 and 18 so far.

100,000 Army and CAPF personnel were deployed for vigil over the Amarnath Yatra, which can be considered to have been successfully conducted for almost 300,000 pilgrims. The dastardly terrorist attack on a bus on 11 July 2017, killing seven Gujarati women and children and injuring nineteen others succeeded only because that bus did not join the protected convoy. Despite the desperation of Pak army/ISI, one basic reason for the turning of the tide this year is the public in the Valley becoming sick of terrorism and violence. The successes of Army and other SFs have come about mainly through reliable and timely human intelligence. The same populace subjected to radicalisation appears to be disgusted and have been readily sharing information of the whereabouts of terrorists.

The other front attacked at long last by New Delhi is that of the separatists. On 17 August 2017, National Investigation Agency (NIA), arrested Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in connection with a case pertaining to funding of terrorist and separatist activities in Jammu & Kashmir. Earlier, on 24 July 2017, Altaf Ahmed Shah, the son-in-law of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, was arrested along with six more separatists by NIA in connection with its probe into the funding of terror and subversive activities in the Kashmir Valley. Altaf Ahmed Shah, popularly known as Altaf Fantoosh, was in the custody of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, who had put him in preventive detention immediately after Eid. Also arrested were Geelani’s close aides, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar and Peer Saifullah and yet earlier, Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesman of the “moderate” Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq. The others arrested are Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Nayeem Khan (of the Hurriyat’s Geelani faction) and Farooq Ahmed Dar alias ‘Bitta Karate’. The houses of those arrested had been raided by NIA. Shah is perceived as an influential force in the Tehrek-e-Hurriyat. The NIA had recovered account books, Rs 2 crore in cash and letterheads of banned terror groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiyaba and Hizbul Mujahideen from the raids. However, it is reiterated that terrorism in Kashmir Valley can only be curbed completely by nabbing all the separatists and keeping them well away from that region.

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