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‘J&K situation better, ceasefire violations by Pakistan up’

Pakistan has resorted to more ceasefire violations, including more calibre escalations, according to sources in the defence establishment.

While there had been 1,629 cases of ceasefire violations in 2018, according to government figures, there were 1,551 similar cases after August 5 in 2019. January this year saw 367 ceasefire violations, significantly higher than 203 cases in January 2019. (File)

Even as internal security situation in the new union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been improving since August 5 last year, when special status to the erstwhile state under Article 370 was scrapped, Pakistan has resorted to more ceasefire violations, including more calibre escalations, according to sources in the defence establishment.

While there had been 1,629 cases of ceasefire violations in 2018, according to government figures, there were 1,551 similar cases after August 5 in 2019. January this year saw 367 ceasefire violations, significantly higher than 203 cases in January 2019.

But Pakistan, sources said, has been upping the ante with calibre escalation, meaning use of artillery instead of gun-firing by soldiers.

Last week, Army Chief General M M Naravane had said that since Pakistan has been trying to push infiltrators into India, it resorts to such ceasefire violations to provide them cover.

Sources said most of these violations are in south Kashmir or in Pir Panjal areas. “Our targets have been Pakistan’s gun areas and Army posts,” a source said. Pakistan has more targets, the source explained, since India maintains a larger presence in the area, largely because Indian forces are present for anti-infiltration measures as well as for domination of the Line of Control (LoC).

Pakistan, on the other hand, needs troops only for domination of the LoC, sources pointed out.

According to them, terrorist-initiated incidents and recruitment of locals has seen a decline in J&K over the months. While 2018 saw 219 locals being recruited by terror groups, the number was down to 119 last year. Two of every three locals recruited by terror outfits in J&K continue to come from Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam, a source said.

Incidents of violence related to terrorism have also seen a sharp downturn since August 5, 2019, sources mentioned. Compared to 318 such incidents in 2018, last year only saw 173 cases. Between August and December 2019, there were only 65 such cases, compared to 156 cases in the same period the year before. Given the reduced terror activity in the region since August 5, 2019, this has also led to fewer confrontations, and consequently fewer terrorists being killed, sources maintained. While 215 terrorists were killed in the hinterland in 2018, 152 were killed in 2019 in the hinterland, including only 25 between August and December. January 2020 has seen 18 terrorists being killed.

Improving internal security situation has led to a gradual revocation of the communication restrictions in the Valley, keeping some limits on speed and content, according to a source. Similarly, the improved situation has also led to the government releasing nine political leaders in December last year and January this year, and revocation of the Public Safety Act slapped on 27 people in Dec.

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