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After Pakistan’s Deadly Diwali Gifts to J&K, it Needs More Surgical Strikes

Timed with Chinese forces’ aggressive moves/misadventures against Indian Army in Eastern Ladakh since May 2020, Pakistani forces stepped ceasefire violations/unprovoked firing and bombardment, including targeting civilians in the border belt and induction of terrorists across both the International Boundary (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J & K). India shares a 3,323-km-long border with Pakistan, of which 221 km of the International Border (IB) and 740 km of the Line of Control (LoC) fall in J&K.

After Indian Army’s surprise move on August 29-30, 2020 to occupy commanding positions on the Kailash Range on the south bank of Pangong Tso, in Eastern Ladakh, while Chinese have been shocked and frustrated, Pakistani forces went into overdrive targeting India’s border-belt villages, particularly so in the run-up to Diwali. This overdrive meant many more incidents in many sectors  of both cross-border firing and bombings and induction of terrorists to attack soft targets well inside the Kashmir Valley.  And with abrogation of Article 370 in J&K and its status changed to Union Territory also being played up by released Kashmiri political leaders for an election, Pakistan’s  desperation drove its forces to try to derail the democratic process by unabated frequent terror attacks, resulting in attrition of over 250 terrorists in 2020, till mid- November.

Over a period of at least a week in the run-up to Diwali, there were many incidents of firing small arms and mortar bombs in Uri, Poonch, Gurez and Machil, Dawar, Keran and Naugam sectors, causing deaths of and injuries to many civilians, Army and BSF personnel. Both Army and BSF have been responding fiercely causing substantial damage to Pak military assets, as seen in some videos released by the Army.

It is relevant to look back at the pattern of ceasefire violations almost all of which are related to Pakistan’s decades old drive to continue its fourth war against India by export of terrorism.

The number of ceasefire violations by Pak troops from January till November 2020, along the J & K border have broken all records of the past 17 years. Till mid-November 2020, the total number of ceasefire violations were at least 4,052, of which 394 were in October and 128 in less than half November. In 2019, the tally of incidents was 3,233.

Earlier in June, 2020, the Jammu-based Defence PRO informed that there were more than 2000 ceasefire violations along the LoC in less than six months in the year 2020.114 were in the first 10 days of June, 2020, as compared to 181 in entire June 2019 and 14 instances in entire June 2018. He further remarked that the 2020 figure of ceasefire violations was astonishing, because in less than 6 months there were more than 2000 violations. The total violations of a number of years till 2017, were not as many as those in entire 2018. In 2019 there were over 300 more than in 2018 and over three times that of 2017, when 971 cases were reported. In 2017, 31 people — 12 civilians and 19 security forces personnel — were killed and 151 others suffered injuries.

According to inputs from government officials in media, 405 cases of ceasefire violations were reported in 2015, and 583 in 2014. From 2009 to 2013, there was a gradual increase. The figures for 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 were 347, 114, 62, 44, and 28 respectively. Then there were 77 in 2008, 21 in 2007 and three in 2006. For three years, following the Vajpayee – Musharraf ceasefire agreement in November 2 003, ie 2004, 2005 But that was too much to digest for Pakistan’s Inter -Services Intelligence and its lackies in the Valley, the separatists-read treacherous tools of terror. The rest-radicalisation, stone-pelting, burning of schools etc – is history, still not taught in India.

Despite the ongoing pandemic caused by the Chinese/Wuhan virus and even during the global lockdown, the LoC continued to remain a war zone as there has been no let down in terror. Rather they were increased and highly likely, at China’s prodding.

In August and November 2020, BSF detected two tunnels, about150 yards long deeply dug underground tunnels stretching from the Pakistani side of the International Boundary (IB) to the Indian side near Samba meant for the purpose of infiltrating terrorists. Digging such tunnels across the IB is an old stunt of Pakistan army/rangers. In both cases Pakistan’s lies about it having no connection with terrorists got nailed yet again with the recovery of many the cement bags used to cover the pit, ration supplies, medicines, mobile handsets, radio sets seized from the Jaish e Mohammad terrorists (who used one of these tunnels) all of which had markings of ‘Made in Pakistan‘.

Nine battalions of BSF deployed on the IB in Jammu, recorded from January till October in 2019 and 2020, 185 and 314 violations respectively by Pakistan forces.

Early morning on November 19, 2020, four Pakistani terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohmmad, who are reported to have come from Shakargarh, crossed the IB near Samba and then boarded a vehicle-bound for Srinagar.

At Ban toll Plaza in Nagrota, on the Jammu and Kashmir highway, there was an encounter between them and the security forces, in which after exchange of fire, all four terrorists were killed. Two special operations group men of the J&K police were injured in the gunfight, which began at 5 AM and also led to the closure of Jammu-Srinagar highway.

Also, on November 19, 2020, three suspected Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba terrorists have been arrested by the security forces from Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir with a large cache of arms and ammunition they had received through drones. All three belong to South Kashmir’s Pulwama district and have been identified as Rahil Bashir, Amir Jan and Hafiz Younis Wani. Police said they had gone to Rajouri to receive the weapons sent by drones from Pakistan. Yet another group of Kashmiris radicalised by Pakistan’s infamous Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and its lackies, the separatists, who destroyed at least four generations of youth and education. The life-spans of the terrorists produced or motivated and trained by Pak army/Inter – Services Intelligence have been very short owing to the alertness and

On November 18, 2020, in Pulwama  district at least 12 civilians were injured  when suspected terrorists lobbed a grenade on security forces. The grenade intended for the joint team of Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Kakapora area of the district, missed the target and exploded on the road.

Owing to a large number of incidents spread over a large area in J&K, many cases of induction of weapons, including by drones and reports of Pakistan’s plans to launch a major attack marking 26/11 and to sabotage the local elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 20, 2020,  held a significant meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and others.PM Mody tweeted: “Our security forces have once again displayed utmost bravery and professionalism. Thanks to their alertness, they have defeated a nefarious plot to target grassroots level democratic exercises in Jammu and Kashmir……..Neutralising of 4 terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed and the presence of large cache of weapons and explosives with them indicates that their efforts to wreak major havoc and destruction have once again been thwarted.”

Ministry of External Affairs also issued statements and summoned Pakistan High Commission officials to warn them that Pakistan must dismantle terror groups, failing which India will be constrained to take action.

While the Army, BSF, CRPF and J&K Police are very alert and  have been responding swiftly and sternly, the option of a rerun of 2016 surgical strikes on the ground and the 2019 air strike on terrorist camps may need to be considered.

The author, a strategic analyst and former spokesperson Defence Ministry  and Indian Army, can be contacted at wordsword02@gmail.com

 

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