Elements in the Pakistan government, including the Pakistan army and the spy agency ISI, have renewed their efforts to spread disturbance and unrest in the Kashmir valley, intelligence agencies have warned the government.

Officials tracking the security situation in the valley said that they have been intercepting communications between anti-India elements in Pakistan, including members of the banned Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, who have been asking their India-based sympathisers to foment violence in the valley, ostensibly to negate the increased bonhomie between the heads of the Indian and Pakistani governments.

“There has been a spurt in such kinds of instructions (to foment violence in the valley) being communicated by Pakistan-based actors to their supporters in the valley in the past three months. These messages have specifically instructed India-based sympathisers to make sure that any funeral of a killed militant, especially if he is a local, is attended by a large number of people and normal civilians reach a place in huge numbers where an encounter between militants and the security forces is going on. The objective is to paint Kashmir as a place where local inhabitants are living under the shadow of Indian guns and portray Kashmir as a ‘highly disturbed’ place on different international forums,” an official said. Confirming the claims of these officials, a prominent UK-based media group did an elaborate report on the development, calling Kashmir “the most difficult state in India” and pointing out the alleged “increase in mistrust against the Indian security forces”.

Last week, large scale protests had erupted in Handwara town of Kupwara district, after four people were killed in police and Army firing, following allegations that a girl student, on her way home, was molested by soldiers posted in an Army picket in the town. However, later, it emerged that the girl was not molested by the soldiers, but by local Kashmiri boys. By the time the truth could come out, the rumour of the girl being harassed by the Army had spread so much that it led to large-scale violence in the valley, which officials are convinced, was spread in a systematic way.

“The message that the girl was molested by one of our men spread like wildfire through various social media platforms, especially through WhatsApp groups and Telegram Messenger. We have come across many such messages where people were instigated to violate the curfew and teach ‘Indian kafirs’ a lesson. Despite our best efforts, in a situation like this, the armed forces are sometimes left without any option but to use firepower to save itself and contain violence,” the official said. Officials who tracked the source of these messages were led to social media groups that are being run by people sitting outside India.

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