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Friday, July 12, 2024

Home Minister Amit Shah Reviews J&K Security Post Terror Attacks

Union home minister Amit Shah on Friday reviewed the security in Jammu and Kashmir with the senior officers of his ministry and Intelligence Bureau (IB) in the wake of four terror attacks in the Jammu region since Sunday, in which 10 people, including nine civilians and a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan, were killed. 

People familiar with the development said Shah was apprised of the current deployment scenario in the Jammu region, at the Line of Control (LOC) and international border, the status of combing operations by the security forces to locate the terrorists and steps being taken to identify their local supporters. 

The home minister has directed that he will chair a detailed meeting on June 16 in North Block, which will be attended by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, senior officers from the army, J&K police, central paramilitary forces and local administration, to discuss further steps to be taken to ensure foolproof security and preparations for Amarnath Yatra. 

“Specific instructions on how to deal with the situation are expected from the home minister on Sunday, particularly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already given clear directions to deploy the full spectrum of counterterror capabilities to deal with the spate of attacks,” said an officer, who did not want to be named. 

A decision on whether to send additional companies of paramilitary forces to the affected districts of Rajouri, Kathua, Samba, Jammu and Poonch will also be taken in the June 16 review meeting, said this officer. 

Currently, there are 70 battalions (about 70,000) of central paramilitary forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir to deal with insurgency and law and order issues. Besides, the Border Security Force (BSF) and army are responsible for maintaining vigil at the border. 

At the entire 3,323-km-long land border with Pakistan, there are currently 675 border outposts (BOPs), while work on 31 more BOPs is expected to be completed by June 2025 and alternative sites are being explored for 30 more such posts. Overall, the forces will have 736 BOPs at the western border. The government has also sanctioned a 2097.646 km fence, out of which 2064.666 km has been completed and the work at the remaining 32.98 km is in progress. 

The intelligence agencies are learnt to have conveyed to the ground forces that infiltration attempts from the LoC and the international border have increased in the past few weeks, with Pakistan trying to foment trouble in the region with the help of proxy outfits of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) among others. 

Data accessed by HT suggests that overall infiltration has significantly dropped in J&K since 2017, from 419 attempts (136 net infiltrations) to 53 attempts (14 net infiltrations) in 2022 and almost negligible last year. Till June 2023, there were zero infiltration incidents reported in the entire region. 

To contain cross-border infiltration, said a second counter-terrorism official, “we are strengthening border infrastructure, there is multi-tiered deployment along the International Border and LOC, and near the ever-changing infiltration routes”. 

“There is also round-the-clock surveillance and patrolling on the border and establishment of observation posts, increase in number of BSF personnel in sensitive areas, construction of border fencing and floodlighting, and use of advance technological equipment like handheld thermal imager (HHTI), night vision device (NVD), twin telescope, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Subsequently, intelligence setup is regularly upgraded,” the second officer added. 

In four back-to-back terror attacks in Reasi, Kathua and Doda districts since Sunday, highly trained foreign terrorists from Pakistan have targeted civilians and security forces. 

In one attack, a group of three to four militants opened fire on a joint check post of the 4 Rashtriya Rifles and the Jammu & Kashmir Police in Doda’s Chattargala area on the Bhaderwah-Pathankot road at 1.45am on Wednesday. The ensuing gunbattle lasted several hours, leaving five army personnel and a special police officer injured. 

On Wednesday evening, officers said the second attack was on in the Kota Top area, 150 km away from Chhattargala, when a second group of terrorists attacked a police team and injured head constable Fareed Ahmed. 

Roughly 220 km away in Kathua another gunbattle began late on Tuesday night and continued into Wednesday morning, leaving one CRPF jawan dead, six security personnel and one civilian injured, and two terrorists neutralized. 

The three gunfights came on the heels of an attack on a bus carrying pilgrims in Reasi on Sunday, when armed terrorists opened fire on the vehicle, causing it to lose control and plunge into a gorge, with nine people dead and 42 others injured. 

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