Following Operation Arjun that targeted farms and residences of ISI officers and retired Pakistani army officials in retaliation to Pakistani sniper fire, Pakistan Rangers’ Punjab DG Maj. Gen. Asgar Naveed Hayat Khan twice called DG, BSF, Mr KK Sharma on 23 and 25 September 2017, requesting to hold fire. On the request of Pakistan Rangers, in a sector commander level flag meeting held between BSF and Rangers on 29 September at Suchetgarh, BSF began by strongly objecting to Pakistan’s dastardly acts of sniper fire killing constables Brijendra Bahadur and K. K. Apparao on 14 September and 25 August respectively. BSF also protested against unprovoked cross border firing and shelling on many Indian border villages targeting innocent civilians and their properties and conveyed that such provocations will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with stronger measures. Besides discussing a number of other issues related to border management, BSF warned the Rangers on movement of armed intruders/terrorists in close vicinity of international boundary at night attempting intrusions into India. Pakistan Rangers assurance that they would take required measures to maintain peace on the border amounted to naught as yet another freshly dug tunnel was discovered by BSF and one of its battalions was attacked.
On 30 October 2017, in an unscheduled hotline requested by Pak army’s DGMO to his Indian counterpart, alleged that Indian Army had resorted to unprovoked firing along the LoC. Indian Army’s DGMO Lt Gen. AK Bhatt emphatically stated that retaliatory firing by Indian troops had only been in response to unabated support given by Pak Army to terrorists who infiltrate across the border and target Indian Army posts with heavy caliber weapons. Gen. Bhatt further clarified that Indian Army always maintains impeccable standards of professionalism and does not target civilians. On the contrary Pak army has employed civilians at the forward posts and has allowed them to be permanently located in the vicinity of Pak army posts. These civilians have repeatedly been used for gaining information of Indian locations and for providing guides to the terrorists crossing the LoC. Gen. Bhatt impressed upon the Pak DGMO that while Indian Army will continue efforts to ensure peace and tranquility on the borders, it would not look blindly at Pak army’s support to terrorism and will retain the right to punitively respond to such provocative acts of aggression from Pak side in future too. In the past six months the Army has eliminated about eighty terrorists.
Since the past few months, sustained action by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has exposed the nexus/collusion of disruptive elements sponsored by Pakistan and separatists in Kashmir. Some of the key separatist leaders have been noted being in touch with terrorist leaders based in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and receiving instructions and financial support from the Pakistan establishment for adverse activities in J&K. A terror funding and fake currency cell has been set up in the NIA to investigate terror funding cases. Investigations have led to raids, cases being filed and summons issued to close relatives/contacts/links of some top separatist leaders as well as some of the leaders. NIA has also registered cases against separatist and secessionist leaders, including unknown members of the Hurriyat Conference, who have been acting in connivance with active terrorists of proscribed organisations Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba and other outfits/gangs. Also in NIA’s dragnet is a Ph D student, some top businessmen and Mian Abdul Qayoom, nineteen times re-elected as the president of the Kashmir High Court Bar Association (mha.nic.in).
While pressure on the separatists’ conglomerate must continue relentlessly, another major segment of dissent that has emerged is of the Valley’s radicalised populace, which needs to be urgently but deftly tackled. The same social media that was used to radicalise the Valley people should now be ingeniously used to make them aware of the advantages of being part of India vis a vis Pakistan and Pak military’s bloody suppression of public in POK and Baluchistan.