Caves and no phone talk: Militants change tactics in Kashmir

Lack of footprints making it difficult for govt agencies to zero in on their location

Poonch attack (File) Security personnel inspect the charred army vehicle after militants opened fire at an Army vehicle, in Poonch, Jammu and Kashmir | Reuters

The challenges facing the security forces in detecting, ‘establishing’ contact and mounting operations to ‘neutralize’ them, especially in the Poonch and Rajouri sectors are considerable this time.

The reason: Besides the difficult terrain and thick forests in the sectors near the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, it is the lack of chatter or telephonic or electronic conversations between the militants, their network of overground supporters, and with their Pakistan-based handlers.

“The militants are changing their strategy in the sense that they are trying to leave no footprints. That is why there has been no chatter on phones or on electronic mediums. That is why there are no footprints thereby making it difficult for the government agencies to zero in on their locations,” a top government official familiar with the counter-insurgency operation told THE WEEK on condition of anonymity.

“Moreover, there is a network of natural caves in the area which the militants may be using. The use of caves for shelter is advantageous for militants as it does away with the need for support from the local overground supporters’ network which considerably decreases chances of their detection,” the official said.

The ongoing operation codenamed ‘Trinetra’, has been mounted by the Indian Army, the state police and the CRPF to detect and counter the militants involved in the ambush in the Kandi forest area under Rajouri sector on Friday. Five Indian Army soldiers lost their lives in the militant attack that began with an IED explosion.

Army sources said on Saturday morning that a terrorist was shot dead in the Kandi forest area while another one is likely to have been injured in a gunfight.

The swathe near the LoC south of the Pirpanjal Range is a contiguous one of very thick forests, that stretch from the LoC leading to the mountains, which make it extremely difficult for the forces to effectively cordon off the area.

In 2021, the Indian Army conducted a nearly three-week long operation to hunt terrorists hiding in the forested swath near the Bhatta Durian region after nine Indian Army soldiers lost their lives in a terrorist attack.

Acting on specific intelligence, since May 3, the troops have been on the trail of a group of an unspecified number of terrorists who had reportedly blown up an army truck on April 20 and killed five soldiers near Bhatta Durian on the Bhimber Gali-Surankote highway, just about 8-9 km aerial distance away from the LoC.

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