May 2018 News

A Reluctant Army Agrees To Suspension Of Ops In J&K After Two Main Concerns Addressed

16 May 2018
Times of India
Rajat Pandit

New Delhi: The Army has agreed to the government's decision to suspend counter-insurgency operations in J&K during Ramzan with some reluctance because of misgivings that similar initiatives have flopped in the past, with terror outfits using the interregnums to regroup, re-arm and unleash further violence. Initially opposed to any 'unilateral' suspension of operations in the absence of any reciprocal signal from Pakistan-controlled terror outfits or 'at least tacit understanding' with others like the Hurriyat, the Army came on board after two of its main operational concerns were addressed in what was 'essentially a political decision', said sources. 'One, Army will have the right to retaliate if any convoy, camp or patrol is attacked by militants. And two, Army will be allowed to conduct specific intelligence-based operations, like the one in which Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Sameer Ahmed Bhat alias Sameer Tiger was killed at Drabgam village (Pulwama district) on April 30,' said a source. Though the Army's 'area domination patrols' will continue as before, 'pro-active' CASO (cordon-and-search) and SADO (seek-and-destroy) operations will be 'curtailed' during Ramzan. 'Some CASO-SADO operations, however, will be required to continue to sanitize, for instance, roads for vehicular movements,' added the source. The Army believes the non-initiation of combat operations (NICO) undertaken in 2000-2001 by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government 'failed to achieve any concrete results' and instead led to a surge in violence levels. 'The terror outfits also regrouped and planned future strikes like the ones on the J&K legislative assembly on October 1 and Parliament on December 13, 2001,' said another source. Counter-insurgency operations have been especially bloody in Kashmir this year. Along with the spurt in stone-pelting, often undertaken to disrupt active operations by the security forces, as many as 43 'local' youth have joined militant ranks in the first four months of this year in what is considered a disturbing development. While 75 terrorists have been killed this year, almost 30 soldiers and 32 civilians have also lost their lives. Sources say the 'pro-active dominance' of the 778-km long Line of Control with Pakistan will, however, continue apace with targeted cross-border fire assaults to deter infiltration as well as inflict costs on the Pak Army-ISI combine for actively exporting terrorism. The surge in cross-border hostilities after the 'surgical strikes' in September 2016 saw as many as 860 ceasefire violations (CFVs) along the LoC and another 120 along the IB in 2017. Around 800 CFVs have already been recorded along the LoC in 2018, which is set to break all records in the last 15 years. The ceasefire with Pakistan, which came into force along the LoC, the 198-km International Border (IB) in J&K and the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in Siachen in November 2003, of course, has consequently been blown to bits.