Rajat Sharma

Terrorism in Kashmir: Pakistan’s desperate gambit is bound to fail

akb fullFive army personnel, including a junior commissioned officer, were martyred on Monday during a gunfight with terrorists hiding in village Chamrer under Surankote tehsil of Poonch district. This was the first time in last several years when army has suffered highest number of casualties during a single encounter. A massive search operation is on to nab the three to four terrorists in the Dera Ki Gali forest on Poonch-Rajouri border.

It was not clear whether this terrorist group had infiltrated across the border recently or was already holed up inside its hideout for some time. Army had specific inputs about terrorists hiding in Chamrer village and was carrying out a cordon and search operation, when the terrorists ambushed the jawans. All the five army personnel killed were leading the patrol and had to face the barrage of bullets from terrorists. Security forces have thrown a cordon around the entire forest to prevent the terrorists from escaping, though there is a possibility of them moving to Shopian through the Pir Panjal range.

JCO Naib Subedar Jaswinder Singh of Punjab’s Kapurthala district, Naik Mandeep Singh of Gurdaspur district, Sepoy Gajjan Singh of Ropar district, Sepoy Saraj Singh of Shahjahanpur district, UP, and Sepoy Vaisakh H. of Kollam district, Kerala were martyred in the encounter. They will be cremated with full military honours.

Since January this year, eight army personnel have been martyred so far while fighting terrorists in Jammu division. Three others were killed during ceasefire violations by Pakistan army near Line of Control. Monday’s army operation was part of Operation All Out crackdown by security forces in the wake of killing of Hindu and Sikh civilians in the Valley by terrorists. Last year, on May 3 in Handwara, two army officers of the rank of Colonel and Major, along with a police sub-inspector and two other jawans were martyred while flushing out terrorists from their hideout.

Poonch and Rajouri districts have been witnessing rise in number of encounters with terrorists during the last nine months. On August 6, two Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists were killed in Rajouri district, while on July 8, two heavily-armed Pakistani terrorists were gunned down while trying to infiltrate in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri. In August this year, an army JCO and a terrorist were killed during an encounter in Rajouri district.

While Congress and other opposition leaders questioned the Centre about its Kashmir policy, former Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, an ex-army man, hit the nail on the head when he tweeted: “Our worst fears are coming true. With Pakistan backed Taliban taking over Afghanistan, terrorism is increasing in Kashmir. Minorities are being selectively targeted and now five soldiers have been killed in action in Surankote sector. We need to deal with it decisively and firmly.”

There is no doubt that our armed forces are capable of hunting and eliminating these killers. On Monday, two terrorists were gunned down in Anantnag and Bandipora. Jammu and Kashmir BJP unit chief Ravinder Raina said, armed forces have broken the back of terrorist groups in the Valley, and this was the reason why terrorists are now selectively targeting civilians and ambushing army jawans. Our armed forces have gunned down 119 terrorists in this year alone, till now. Out of them, the largest number of 30 terrorists were killed during May this year, while in July, 20 terrorists were gunned down.

There are politicians in the Valley who are trying to give a political angle to the spurt in terror attacks. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has tweeted, “Disturbing to see the deteriorating situation in Kashmir where a minuscule minority is the latest target. GOI’s claims of building a Naya Kashmir has actually turned it into a hellhole. Its sole interest is to use Kashmir as a milch cow for its electoral interests.” Mehbooba is harping on her old tune for starting negotiations with Pakistan and separatists on resolving Kashmir issue.

This is nothing new. Whenever there will be a spurt in terror activity, Mehbooba Mufti will say that she had forewarned about abrogation of Article 370. To put it on record, Mehbooba had said two years ago that if Article 370 was removed, there will not be a single Indian to raise the tricolour in the Valley. In the last two years, the number of Indians hoisting the tricolour in the valley has increased, and the number of Indians offering to sacrifice their lives for sake of tricolour has also increased. Mehbooba may be having her own political compulsions, but her premonitions are bound to be proved wrong in the long run. Pakistan’s desperate gambit in trying to stoke fire in the Valley will fail.

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