Infiltration surges to disrupt 2014 polls
By N C Bipindra | Published: 27th October 2013 07:35 AM |
Three hundred and fifty of them are already waging a bloody war in the Indian mainland, and 700 more are across the Pakistan borders with Kalashnikovs hung from their shoulders, waiting to sneak in—to disrupt Indian democracy’s biggest exercise next year, the General Elections. As the winter sets in, Pakistan Army has already ratcheted up its small arms and mortar firing, aimed at facilitating infiltration of a large number of militants into Jammu and Kashmir. For, snowing will close down all the passes in the hilly, undulating terrain along the Line of Control (LoC) and it would become difficult for Pakistan to push in militants into the state, where their number has been dwindling steadily over the years.
When Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh met with his seven top commanders for a five-day conference from Monday to Friday in Delhi, one of the key issues that they deliberated threadbare was the emerging adverse security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the worsening ceasefire violations by Pakistan Army, and the increased infiltration by militants into the border state. Their prognosis: Winter this year could be very violent in Jammu and Kashmir, aimed at disrupting the General Elections slated for April-May 2014. And among the solutions discussed was the Indian Army’s force accretion plans for the western border. That solution would be for the long-term, while the security forces have to handle the likely troubles this winter in the short-term.
Already, 2013 will go down as the worst year in terms of ceasefire violations in the 10 years since the November 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan, resulting in security analysts questioning the validity of the ceasefire pact along the 778-km LoC in the border state.
Indian security agencies have recorded over 175 ceasefire violations, using small arms and mortar fire, by Pakistan Army along the LoC since January, the highest number in the last 10 years.
This apart, Pakistani troops have fired 50-odd times at India’s Border Security Force (BSF) posts along the 198-km International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir this year, of which over 40 such ceasefire violations have taken place in October alone.
The troubles along the Indo-Pak borders began this year with the beheading of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani commando team in the Poonch sector and it worsened with the killing of another five soldiers in August.
The Indian intelligence agencies have recorded a shift in the Pakistan Army strategy this October. Pakistani troopers stopped all firing along the LoC between October 13 and 18, but began their cross-border attacks along the IB, which is continuing, unexpectedly, for nearly 10 days now without respite.
“These days are the last few left for trained militants—about 700 of them—waiting at the 55 training camps and launch pads to infiltrate into the Indian side of the border. From November to March, heavy snow would close the passes and make it difficult for the militants to infiltrate across the LoC or IB,” an intelligence officer said.
Till December 2012, there were 41 terrorists training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, but since January this year, 13 more terror camps and launch pads for infiltration have been activated. Of these new camps, three—Shawai Nallah, Garhi Habibullah and Sensa—were reactivated this year after remaining closed for a couple of years.
“Trust me, this is being done with the April-May 2014 Lok Sabha elections in mind. If they do not get enough militants across now, they have no manpower on the ground to carry out disruptive activities ahead of the polls. Hence the spurt in ceasefire violations, which are to support and divert Indian troopers’ attention away from the infiltrating militants,” the officer told The Sunday Standard.
Intelligence agencies estimate that there are about 350-odd militants presently operating out of Jammu and Kashmir and the efforts at mass influx of militants, such as the one witnessed in Keran sector early this month, were attempts to add to their depleting strength.
“The counter-insurgency grid has been strengthened with changes in tactics this year. Now, we are trying to get the militants right at the infiltration point, as had been done in the Keran operation. This apart, within the hinterland, we are now adopting a pro-active approach to gather intelligence among the locals to pin-point when an outsider enters a Kashmir village,” the official said.