Shift in militant strategy: Jammu & Kashmir

Context: The recent attacks in Poonch and Rajouri that killed 10 security personnel have made Jammu, the new focus of militant attacks.

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Signs of Shift:

  • In February 2021, the UT police seized 15 magnetic IEDs in Samba district along International border with Pakistan.
  • In June 2021, low flying drones dropped two IEDs at Jammu’s Air force station.
  • Militants are now targeting the Rajouri-Poonch belt in the Pir Panjal region “after suffering setbacks in Kashmir”.
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Reasons for the Shift:

  • Thinning of security forces: In 2020, amid the standoff with China along the LAC in Ladakh sector, several companies of the Rashtriya Rifles were moved from the hinterlands of Poonch, Rajouri and adjoining Reasi district in Jammu division.
  • Usage of Technology: Now they are using the applications such as Telegram, to avoid tracking of their movements.
  • Reduced Network of informers: Drying up of “human intelligence” makes it difficult to anticipate the attacks by security personnel.
  • New Hideouts: 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.

Government Steps:

  • In response to the ambush in the Rajouri sector, the Indian Army, state police, and CRPF have collaboratively initiated a mission named ‘Trinetra’ aimed at detecting and neutralizing the militants involved in the attack.
  • Three new branches of NIA operationalized at Kolkata, Jammu, and Raipur.

Way Forward:

  • Security agencies need to keep changing their strategies as militants too modify their plans as per requirement.
  • The emphasis should be shifted from kinetic military action, such as aggressive cordon and search operations, to intelligence-based operations. 
  • It is crucial to prioritize the strengthening of intelligence agencies to effectively identify and apprehend informants, overground workers, and underground operatives.

UPSC Mains 2019

The banning of ‘Jammat-e-Islami’ in Jammu and Kashmir brought into focus the role of over-ground workers (OGWs) in assisting terrorist organizations. Examine the role played by OGWs in assisting terrorist organizations in insurgency affected areas. Discuss measures to neutralize influence of OGWs. (Answer in 150 words).

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