With the Valley on the boil and militants targeting an Army camp close to the Line of Control in Kupwara, there are renewed attempts to infiltrate the LoC in areas south of the Pir Panjal mountain range. This increased activity on the Pakistani side of the LoC is reflected in the sharp increase in the number of ceasefire violations in that area this year.
“During winter months, as the LoC north of Pir Panjal is covered with snow, it is very hard for Pakistan to send militants across. It uses the areas south of Pir Panjal for infiltration. But these numbers are usually low because militants find it difficult to cross the Pir Panjal range and reach Kashmir Valley. This year, the number of attempts are surprisingly high,” a senior Army officer told The Indian Express.
According to sources in the Army, there have been 60 instances of ceasefire violations until mid-April in the 16 Corps Zone, the area that falls south of Pir Panjal. There were two ceasefire violations during the same period last year.
Two-thirds of these ceasefire violations this year have occurred in the Naushera sector, the area where there are reports of militants congregating at launch-pads on the Pakistani side of LoC. The Army, sources said, has been proactive in taking pre-emptive action to prevent attempts at infiltration. This has led to an increase in the number of ceasefire violations this year.
Four bids at infiltration have been foiled by the army on the LoC so far this year, leading to the death of eight militants. A total of 40 militants have already been killed by the Army in the state during the same period. As per Army sources, 371 militants had attempted infiltration from across the LoC last year, of which 119 had been successful. The comparative figures for 2015 were 121 and 33 respectively.
The rise in ceasefire violations in the 16 Corps Zone started after the surgical strikes last year when Special Forces of the Army targeted terror launch pads along the LoC. Of 226 ceasefire violations last year, only 45 occurred before the surgical strikes. The number of ceasefire violations have shown a rise since 2014, when they shot to 153 from 99 in 2013. There were 152 ceasefire violations on the LoC, south of the Pir Panjal range, in 2015.