With a series of militant attacks pushing the Kashmir valley back to a familiar brink, security agencies in J&K have warned the Centre, in an overview of the scenario, that “alienation is on (the) rise” and that there is “anger against the (state) government”.
Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Indian Express that this assessment, which was conveyed in the form of a presentation recently, also contained some startling numbers: a “47 per cent increase in militancy-related incidents, 51 per cent increase in stone-pelting incidents, 65 per cent spurt in infiltration and an increase in fresh recruitments” during the first six months of 2016.
Sources said that while 64 militants were killed in security operations in J&K since the beginning of 2016, at least 179 more were still active in the state.
Sources said the agencies have blamed “competitive radicalisation” and “attempts at communalisation” for growing unrest in the state that is now ruled by a PDP-BJP alliance. They said that J&K agencies have divided this “radicalisation” into three categories: “political” by Hurriyat, “religious” by “socio-religious groups” and “online radicalisation through social media”.
Sources said the assessment also suggested that “media intimidation” was a reason for the “rising unrest”, and pointed to the alleged “role of certain dargahs” (religious schools). While not directly addressing the rise of Hindutva groups, the overview referred to “competitive radicalisation” and warned of “attempts at communalisation” in Jammu, said sources.
While J&K agencies considered the “situation on the ground under control”, sources said their biggest concerns related to two new trends: “the massive public participation in the funerals” of slain militants and “disruption of operations against militants by civilian population, who gather at an encounter site and pelt stones at SFs (security forces)”.
A significant pointer in the overview is the sudden rise in activities of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit. In 2013, JeM had 19 militants in J&K, which dropped to 11 in 2014 and five in 2015. This year, it already has sent 15 new recruits to the valley and is “consistently trying to increase its boots on ground”, said sources.
However, they added, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) remain the most potent outfits. LeT has the strongest presence with 76 militants operating on the ground while HM has 64 active cadres.
Then, there are militants not directly linked to any group, sources said, adding that HuJI (Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami) has a lone commander who has been active for the last five years.
The J&K agencies have also mapped a “slight spurt in local recruitment into militant outfits in 2016” and are “alarmed by the constant rise in the numbers of the fresh local recruitments’’ since 2013, said sources (see box).
MHA sources said that there are 65 militants currently active in five South Kashmir police districts: eight in Anantnag, 15 in Kulgam, 11 in Pulwama, 13 in Shopian and 18 in Awantipora. At the same time, they said, militant groups are “purposely dormant” in the rest of Kashmir — the only other major activity is along the LoC, where “encounters take place regularly during infiltration”.
The report also refers to the increase in incidents of stone-pelting by civilians, especially during encounters and counter-insurgency operations in the first six months of 2016, a rise in infiltration despite “regular” encounters at the border, and a 100-per cent rise in participation in funerals of slain militants.
On the biggest challenges ahead, the J&K agencies have listed operations to disrupt and prevent the “unification of Hurriyat”, “civil resistance” and “youth icons among local militant recruits”, said sources. The agencies have also claimed that militant outfits are trying to focus on the Jammu region, said sources.
Besides, cross-border infiltration of militants has been considerably successful during the current year, said sources — a 65-per cent success rate this year as compared to 28 per cent last year (see box).
According to MHA sources, J&K agencies have identified two new infiltration routes into Handwara and categorised Kaobal Gali, Sardari, Sonar, Kel, Ratta Pani, Shardi, Tejian, Dudhinial, Athmuqam, Katwara, Jura and Lipa valley as the most active routes into Kupwara, Bandipore and Baramulla districts.
The agencies have also highlighted infiltration from Lokut Bangus and Bod Bungus into the Mawar forests, and via Patni Bahak in Kazinag towards Rafiabad in Baramulla district. Similarly, the routes via Kamal Kot towards Lachipora, Nambla forest to Gharhkot and Fatehwali Bahak to Chorkud have been identified.
According to sources, the agencies told the Centre that there were allegedly 38 training camps of militant outfits across the LoC of which 26 were either active or used as transit points while 12 were dormant.
Providing a break-up of these camps, the J&K agencies claimed that out of 10 run by LeT, four were dormant and six active. Similarly, HM has five active camps and the JeM four camps; other outfits have 18 camps out of which 11 were active.
The agencies also listed the locations of some of these camps: Dulai, Maskar-e-Aqsa and Abdullah Bin Masood in Muzaffarabad, Umar Bin Khitab and Batrasi in Mansera, and one in Muridke (LeT); Garhi Habibullah in Mansera and Khalid Bin Waleed in Muzaffarabad (Hizbul Mujahideen); Chelabandi in Muzaffarabad, Jabba in Mansera and Bahawalpur (JeM).
To tackle the latest threat, sources said, the J&K agencies identified a list of demands: “interception equipment to intercept VoIP calls and specialized applications used by militants”, “upgradation of social media surveillance labs”, “counselling centres for youth” and “Integrated Command Centre and Integrated Command Vehicle”.
Security agencies in J&K also asked the Centre to focus on “effective prosecution of human rights violations”, said sources.