Five brutal killings in less than 48 hours have triggered a huddle in the security establishment for hard befitting counter-terrorism modus-operandi.
Having lost the ideological and operational capabilities, Pakistan is looking all set to revive dead terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Over the past many decades, people and security forces had defeated Pakistan’s machinations both at ideological and security levels. The recent killings are pointers that those across the Line of Control (LoC) are out to take advantage of the political vacuum and resort to killing innocent civilians.
The handlers across the LOC having lost most of their local mercenaries and operators at the hands of security forces have tasked the fewer terrorists to launch selective killings to vitiate the security and peace ecosystem in the valley.
The success of the Indian Army and security forces were visible due to a large number of terror commanders been killed in the last few years. Anyone who is appointed as a commander in terror ranks is tracked using various means and targeted using multiple approaches. Due to this, the number of active terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir has reduced drastically. This prompted Pakistan to issue new instructions to the terrorists to avoid confrontation with the security forces. Terror attacks in the last few years resonate with this strategy.
The holding of Panchayat and District Development Councils elections and people’s massive participation in the democratic process defeated the ideology of terrorism. It created a major setback to the overground support structure of terrorists and people accused these elements as villains of Kashmiris and Kashmiriyat.
Ever since the abrogation of Article 370 and the start of “Operation All Out”, remarkable changes had taken place on the ground with a decrease in terror activities. Firstly, due to the increased crackdown on terror sympathizers and financers, new recruitments were affected. Secondly, since the vigil on the LoC is very strict and a three-tier security deployment is maintained, the availability of arms and ammunition to terrorists was reduced. Thirdly, due to their utter desperation, terror groups have started targeting soft targets like Kashmiri Pandits who have a negligible presence in the valley, political leaders, soldiers on leave and social leaders in frustration.
Biggest pain for Pakistan
Kashmir was witnessing the return of peace once again and people had understood that terrorism and separatism cannot flourish in Jammu and Kashmir. This is the biggest pain for Pakistan, which has been trying to internationalize the Kashmir issue for over seven decades. By creating a communal rift, it wants to give few more days of life to the dying terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. It also wants to reinstate fear in the minds of common Kashmiri people that to get killed, one need not be an influential person. Being from a minority community is sufficient enough. However, the way things are changing on the banks of the mighty Jhelum, and the way people are participating in building a peaceful state, it is certain that Pakistan has no takers politically in the Valley.
Barely two days after three people including a businessman Makhan Lal Bindroo were killed in Srinagar, terrorists attacked another school in the Eidgah area of Srinagar and killed its principal and a teacher after checking the identity cards of all staff and ensuring that these were the two from the minority community. Five cowardly killings in less than 48 hours have triggered another debate over the changing modus-operandi of terrorists in Kashmir Valley. This kind of terrorism is not new. Their tactics are- “Kill one and Scare a thousand. “That is how they succeeded in hounding out the entire population of Kashmiri Pandits from their roots of more than five thousand years engraved in the soil of the Valley.
There were many events in the last few months which prompted terror perpetrators sitting across our western border to think of a new strategy to revive terrorism. Lal Chowk of Srinagar where even hoisting our National Flag was not possible, Janmashtami processions were made after almost three decades.
A significant number of Kashmiri Pandits started returning to their native places and Srinagar was comparatively peaceful than the previous years. The peaceful co-existence between both the communities was being established and so it was natural for terrorists sitting across to get worried. Therefore, they instructed their puppets in Kashmir Valley to launch targeted attacks on the Hindu community so that a communal rift and an atmosphere of fear can be created among the residents. Here are the key points of Pakistan’s new terror strategy.
Initially, from 1989 onwards the insurgency had been launched by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). It rose over the few years advocating for the establishment of Nizam-e-Mustafa (Rule of Muhammad). The Islamist groups proclaimed the Islamization of socio-political and economic set-up, merger with Pakistan, unification of ummah and establishment of an Islamic Caliphate. Liquidation of central government officials, Pandits, liberal and nationalist intellectuals, social and cultural activists were described as a necessary part of the armed struggle to rid the valley of un-Islamic elements.
Though the murders of Kashmiri Hindus had been a routine feature even much before Indian Independence, the mass murder of Kashmiri Hindus started over 32 years ago on Sept. 14, 1989, when a community leader Tika Lal Taploo, a lawyer and senior BJP leader fell victim to the terrorist’s bullets.
His killing set off a series of target killings of KP leaders and young, old and even infants at the hands of trigger-happy terrorists who used to celebrate counting the heads. These murders continued so much so that a terrorist Bitta Karate confessed on a local TV he had killed a couple of dozens of KPs and that now he had even lost the exact count.
New breed recruited with pistols
Three civilians were shot dead in Kashmir Valley starting from Tuesday evening in separate incidents. The first incident took place in the Iqbal Park area of Srinagar. At about 7:25 p.m., the owner of a medical shop one ML Bindroo was shot outside his shop.
“Srinagar Police received information about a terror crime incident near Iqbal Park Sherghari area of Srinagar. Officers attending the terror crime spot learnt that the owner of Bindroo Medicate namely Makhan Lal Bindroo was shot at by the terrorists near his shop at Iqbal Park. He received grievous gunshot injuries in this terror incident and was immediately evacuated to a nearby hospital, however, he succumbed to his injuries,” informed the police.
The second incident took place at around 8:15 in Madina Chowk, Lal Bazaar area of Srinagar, where terrorists shot dead a non-local (street hawker) identified as Virender Paswan, a resident of Bhagalpur in Bihar. The third terror crime incident was reported in the Shahgund area of Bandipora where terrorists shot dead another civilian identified as Mohd Shafi Lone resident of Naidkhai.
‘Police have registered cases regarding these terror crime incidents. An investigation is in progress and officers continue to work to establish the full circumstances of these terrorist crimes.
There is a sense in the intelligence apparatus that ISI has asked the left-over terrorists to recruit a new young breed of uneducated street urchins and give them pistols and use them to kill soft targets since these young boys are inexperienced and novice, they are used to kill unarmed, unprotected soft targets like people of the minority community, small-time politicians and community leaders. The overground workers analyse the target well and when there is no threat of security forces in the vicinity, they strike. Not only this, but they also resort to shoot and scoot strategy which means strike the target and run away. In most of these cases, escape routes are planned well in advance and overground workers and sympathizers of terror groups help in the same. Due to this, while there is no significant threat of getting killed in retaliation as these soft targets are not well protected, the identity of the killer remains secret, and an atmosphere of terror grows significantly.
Shy political leaders
The valley has been put on high alert after almost all attacks in Jammu and Kashmir during this year, terrorists used pistols and grenades to kill security forces or soft targets. These weapons can be easily hidden and carried to the site of action without getting noticed.
Further, it is easy to escape using these weapons which makes the detection and identification of the perpetrator difficult. A very large portion of all seized weapon caches on the LOC/ International Border was made up of pistols and grenades only, which signifies the theory that there is a change in Pakistani strategy and terrorists are changing their way of working.
Another trend observed during all these killings and is the reaction by certain political leaders. They are the first ones to react and they are the first ones to condemn the central government’s policies rather than targeting cross-border terrorism. At the same time, social media like Twitter gets flooded with messages floated by ISI controlled handles who create an atmosphere of misinformation while Pakistani politicians try to internationalize the issue by making fiery statements. This indicates that there is someone from across the border driving all this.
Pakistan is perceived as a failed State by peace loving Kashmiris and therefore she is described as a villain by Kashmiris.