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Is hard-faced terrorism making a return in J&K?

13/08/2022 at 12:05 PM

Arun Joshi

 The terror attack at army camp in border district of Rajouri on Thursday in which  four soldiers  were killed is a highly disturbing signal  of hard-faced militancy in Jammu and  Kashmir . The attack was  mounted by two terrorist who   also got neutralized  in the gunfight that followed . This is a serious U-turn   which  requires a fresh study of the factors  pushing terrorism to this scale . It would  be a mistake to  assess and dismiss this is an isolated incident .

Next day- Friday , two more attacks were mounted in the Valley – one Bihari labourer was shot dead in Bandipore  in north Kashmir , and  a policeman shot at and critically wounded in south Kashmir’s  Bijbehra town . These acts of terror  reestablish the  fact that terrorism is thriving .

Terrorism is not new to Jammu and Kashmir , it  has   manifested in various dimensions, especially in the  past 32 years . Its motivational  discourse , too , has been changing with the times . Now  it is   based on new  motivations to  mount such attacks  which  even in terms of statistics  show loss of four soldiers against  two  terrorists . This is an unacceptable ratio; as   standard ratio is of 1:4, which means at least four terrorists should die against one soldier ‘s sacrifices . The suicide , and “ fidayeen” attacks have upturned this ratio  since 1999 , when this cult surfaced in J&K . Two or three terrorists killed three to four times more of soldiers . Here the difference between a suicide attack and the fidayeen needs to be made and understood. A suicide attack is when  one or two terrorists blow themselves up and kill as many people around them in the crowd or the targeted area. The most atrocious attack was in Pulwama  on February 14, 2019 , when  Suicide bomber Adil Dar  rammed explosive laden van into CRPF convoy killing 40  personnel . This was a high impact suicide bombing . The fidayeen attack is , when the terrorist sneak or storm into security forces’ camps , killing and wounding  soldiers and troopers   but not making an attempt to come out of the camp . They die within the camp underlining their wish to die . While the suicide gives  sudden one -time shock , the fidayeens  prolong the situation , thus grabbing headlines .

In such situations , casualties are seen as less of an issue  because of the larger goal that has been achieved – the terrorists could not  run over the army camp . Their attempt to do so was foiled  by the soldiers who laid down their lives to protect the camp  and their  colleagues . The casualty figures could have been higher. This also should serve as a lesson to all the observers of terrorism and counterterrorism operations that statics do not necessarily measure the real story of these situations .

The Rajouri attack is significant   as it raises two questions : whether it  was an  incident of its kind , or it is a signal of  pattern that  Jammu and Kashmir might be witnessing in future . The army camp in Pargal area was situation on a hillock  and  as  is customary nowadays fenced with barbed wire . In a typical “ fidayeen” attack style, the terrorists made an attempt to  sneak into the camp and the encounter that followed left four soldiers dead ,  two terrorists  were neutralized .  The timing of the attack was typical fidayeen- in the small hours when the soldiers are  bleary eyed  and it takes time for them to respond . The time between the attack and the response  is when the terrorists cause damage .

This attack   has not undone all the gains that the security forces have made over the years , especially the way success has been achieved in neutralizing terrorists,  cutting the flow of their funds and strike at the ecosystem in which they thrived . The gains are there . But  there are questions too. If the claims of the militancy having been wiped out from most parts of Jammu and Kashmir is true,  from where  did the terrorists  come  and how ? Secondly . the army camp is not a soft target, nor did the terrorists throw grenades, fire at the soldiers and flee . They engaged in the gunfight.  It  clearly shows that the terrorists were on suicidal mission. They  attacked despite knowing consequences of their actions – the death upon themselves.

Either the terrorists came from across the Line of Control  that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan  or they  could have been locals. In both the situations  In real-time translation , it means that  an ecosystem is working in favour of the terrorists .

All across J&K , there are many such army camps ,  nestled in  thick-forested mountains , where nature   acts as shield  and adversary too. The nature gives advantage to discern the rustle of grass and leaves , but the thick foliage  also gives  time and space to  terrorists to  move at the pace they wish , and attack when they get the opportunity . This is not a new thing, but this phenomenon has  come back after years  in the land where  acts of terror in urban areas  make better news than in the mountainous hinterland . A single killing in urban areas  gives   terrorists the publicity they  aspire , while  in rural areas , most of their acts don’t get  that kind of  publicity . However, the point is  that when  soldiers are killed in their action , it accomplishes their other objectives that they are capable of striking at the hard targets .

In the immediate aftermath of this attack , the army and other wings of the security forces- paramilitary forces- will have to undertake a  strict security audit , and  study all parameters of this attack ,  as also what more  damage terrorists could have caused , and how the counter measures needed to be put in place .

In J&K , the task of fighting terrorism to the security forces has shown its limitations  in the past , and now those are more than visible . It is not for the first time that the claims have been made about the stabilization of the situation with  security forces going in for all-out anti-terrorism operations , but the success slipped into pit holes because  the political class hesitated from playing its role in consolidating  the gains made  by these operations . In any terror-hit situation , the fundamental requirement is to  get the people on board, and that can happen only through  their leaders in politics as they are the real narrators .

Practically speaking , this is the first major terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir since February 14, 2019 ,Pulwama  suicide bombing , in which 40 CRPF men were killed , and that stunned the nation .  This  underlines seriousness of the attack and its fallout.

About the Author:

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com.

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