Officials attribute such success to the no holds barred policy adopted by the NDA government at the Centre. They say that the policy that the government has adopted in the last three years will continue until there is a permanent impact on the ground.
Major General (Retired) S.P. Sinha, who once served in Ladakh, told this newspaper that the last three years have seen a massive shift in the tactical strategy adopted by the government. “Earlier, it was you (militants) don’t trouble me, I won’t trouble you. Earlier, it was, first take permission from the ministry officials sitting in Delhi, before retaliating. Now it is, don’t think twice before responding to an attack. Tactical freedom has been given to the Army to do whatever it thinks is needed for operational freedom and that is why we are seeing an increase in the number of terrorists who are being eliminated,” Sinha said.
Officials say that the government is aware that the no holds barred policy is likely to elicit desperate responses from the terror groups, but that the option of “going slow” does not arise.
The terrorists are now desperately trying to change the core of the “fight” into a struggle to implement Shariah in the valley, instead of the “political” fight to create an independent Kashmir. This is similar to the ISIS’ attempt to establish an Islamic Caliphate. This change in strategy, the terrorists hope, will attract not only more radicalised youths, but also fighters from the now-weakened ISIS.
“They are trying to attract the international terror groups, especially those who fought for ISIS in Iraq and Syria and now have dispersed to different parts of the world. We are facing a very delicate situation right now. Imagine what will happen if even 200-300 hardcore ISIS fighters are able to enter the valley with the help of Pakistan. These people have fought with the armies of multiple countries. It took these countries a long time, airpower and thousands of collateral damages to defeat them in Iraq finally. We simply cannot let a similar situation develop in the valley,” a senior official from the security apparatus told this newspaper.
“Their ‘cause’ now is about establishing a Wahhabi state. A concerted effort is being made to incite the young people in the name of religion. We cannot allow that,” the official added.
The government is of the view that the support for ISIS in the valley, if not stopped, is going to increase.
“However, while we are concerned, we are not alarmed”, the official said.
The security agencies also fear that an increasing number attacks will target J&K’s Hindu community and pilgrim sites. In fact, the Intelligence Bureau has got specific leads this week that terrorists will be targeting Hindi pilgrims currently in the valley.
The agencies say that the only way to tackle the terrorists, who are crossing the line that stopped them from targeting non-combatants in Kashmir, is to eliminate them as swiftly as possible.
“Every person who takes up the gun should consider himself to be a target from that moment. This Pakistan supported proxy war has bled us long enough. Five to 10 per cent of Wahhabised Kashmiris cannot destroy the peace and happiness of the rest of Kashmiris, who want to lead normal lives. Most Kashmiris know that neither can they survive on their own, nor can Pakistan—which is falling into an abyss—feed them. The number of terrorists killed will rise for some more time, until the very backbone of separatism and terrorism is broken. We are focusing on solving the Kashmir problem from inside, rather than waiting for Pakistan to take action, which honestly, has been a bad policy that we were following for a long time,” the official said.