June 2017 News

Killing Of Officer A Sign Of Things To Come In Kashmir

24 June 2017
The Hindu


Srinagar: Kashmir will witness a further flare-up of violence in the coming days, and 2017 could end up being the bloodiest year in over a decade, show latest indications. The beating to death of Deputy Superintendent of Police Mohammed Ayub Pandith is the latest sign of flared tempers and a further worsening of the situation there, several sources in the security establishment say. Some seasoned hands estimate that most parameters for measuring Kashmir insurgency could go up about one-and-a-half times in the remaining part of 2017, compared with what has happened in the first six months of this year. 'Violence will climb post-Ramzan and will go on till October. That is the peak season,' one official said. 'In fact, in the remaining months of this year's violence could breach all our expectations,' he cautioned. The death toll, including of security force personnel, militants and civilians, has crossed 150 this year, and it could well end up breaching the 2009 mark - of 375 casualties. The declining trend in militancy began in 2002-03, after a decade of extreme violence, and was maintained until 2013, when it began to pick up. 'Since then, we have seen a year-on-year increase in militancy, and 2017 will end up being the worst year,' he said. One senior officer said the Army believed violence and attacks in Kashmir could go up significantly after Eid, and go on till mid-September. There were two key events that the Army would be watching warily now: the annual Amarnath Yatra between June 29 and August 7 and the anniversary of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burwan Wani on July 8. (He was killed in 2016). 'Between June 30 and July 8 they will try to build up the crowd for protests and may also resort to some violence. It will then continue till September,' a senior Army officer said. The bigger threat is from foreign terrorists in the Valley, estimated at 70 to 80. The officer said they were well trained and motivated to make their presence felt. To deal with the possible worsening of the situation, the Army has deployed five additional battalions, or 5,000 troops, in vulnerable areas beyond Banihal. Of these, three battalions will be on the National Highway ahead of Jawahar tunnel that links Jammu to Kashmir. Army sources said that with additional troops on the highway, existing troops got freed up and they were being moved into interior areas to 'increase the number of company operating bases (COB).' According to Army estimates, the cycle of violence is expected to go on at least until September - till the United Nations General Assembly in New York attended by all Heads of States and where Pakistan traditionally raises the Kashmir issue. Another reason violence is expected to taper off after that is because the apple season begins by September-end. Once this ends winter will set in making infiltration and movement difficult. 'So they would want to make maximum impact before that,' another officer said. Militants will not target the highly guarded highways but will focus on interiors. The officer said that with the additional troops in place they would have room to dominate the areas to prevent major attacks. 'Informants and security forces will be targeted, mostly single vehicles and small convoys. They will focus on the arterial roads and interiors,' the officer stated. Along with attacks within the Valley, infiltration attempts and to support them Cease-Fire Violations (CFVs) by Pakistan, are also expected to go up. An additional Army battalion was deployed along the Line of Control for counter-infiltration duties two months back, sources said. They said violence levels have been much higher this year even during the holy month of Ramzan. Attacks on security forces and infiltration attempts are being reported on a daily basis. Security forces estimate there are at least 200 militants in the Valley. This year till June 12, 77 militants have been killed - 32 on the LoC and 45 in the Valley. Last year for the same period 54 militants were killed. The CFVs by Pakistan during the same time have also gone up sharply. This year till June 12, 193 CFVs were reported while it was just five for the corresponding period last year. The CFVs for the whole of last year were 228.

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