The fidayeens from across the border seem to have taken a sudden liking for defence establishments in the Jammu and Kashmir. It now seems these attackers have attached a symbolism to their attacks by way of striking at Army strongholds as a show of strength.
In the light of the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, it seems non-state actors are intent on inflaming the security situation in a state that remains on the edge. It also derails and undermines any attempts by the Army or the Indian government to make peace with the protesters.
The upsurge of fidayeen attacks has been witnessed since March 2013. A similar trend of frequent fidayeen attacks on the defence establishment and troops was last seen during 1999-2002 when militancy was at its peak in the state. During 2001 alone, there were 25 attacks on government and security forces installations with total disregard for the lives of civilians.
But the new trend targets seems to be aimed specifically at armed forces installations, often not even near the LoC as was the case before. Fidayeen attacks have been a strong weapon in the hands of terrorists to destabilise Kashmir and keep it in a state of political flux to fuel their separatist agendas.
In terms of troops casualties, the Uri attack is worse than the Pathankot airbase attack when six attackers and seven security forces personnel were killed. Seventeen armed forces personnel were martyred killed in the attack which is the maximum for any fidayeen attack till date. The attack on Sunday was carried out at the rear office of an infantry battalion of the 12th Brigade Headquarters in Uri, Baramulla. The installation is surrounded by the Line of Control on three sides and at one side the distance is only around 6 km.
The government’s preparations for ward off such attacks come into question after every hit. Though, the fidayeen squad that attacked Uri appeared to be well drilled and attacked the installations at places with the minimum security cover. According to various reports, the rear office of the infantry battalion, is the one side that doesn’t face the LoC. As military protocol suggests, the maximum security cover must be deployed on the vulnerable directions—in this case the sides towards LoC from where maximum attacks are expected.
After the Pathankot attack rocked the country, the government had initiated a security audit of all the defence establishments in Jammu and Kashmir by a multi-agency committee under the chairmanship of former Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt General Philip Campose. The committee recommended periodic reviews in view of dynamic changes seen in security situations on the ground along with hiring of new dedicated Garuda commandos for securing these establishments.
Also, repeated terror attacks on Indian defence and security establishments since September 2013 initiated from Pakistan along with frequent discoveries of trans-border tunnels necessitate a strong stance against these non-state actors. The government must take a firm stand on neutralising such terrorists to secure the security situation in Kashmir.