The encounter at J&K Entrepreneurial Development Institute (JKEDI) at Pampore has entered the third day but the security forces are showing no hurry to storm the building to prevent any casualty on their side. Two of the three militants have been killed while third one is still holed up inside the building. The attempt is to tire them out, exhaust their ammunition and then draw them out.
The new strategy is informed by the experience of the encounter at the site in February in which six persons, including two Army captains, soldier, two CRPF personnel and civilian, were killed besides the three militants.
The loss of life was the result of the security personnel walking in the line of the militant fire.
“But this time, the security forces don’t want to take any chances. Our objective is to kill the terrorists without any loss to us,” said a police official.
The Pampore attack has, thus, become a battle of nerves of sorts. Militants have deliberately chosen the strategically located site to inflict maximum loss on the security personnel and the security forces fully seized of this design are doing everything to defeat this objective.
One overriding imperative for pre-empting the casualties of the security personnel is its potential to escalate the tension with Pakistan. A loss of several personnel could oblige the Centre to retaliate, which could put the region on the brink.
Though Pakistan has saved itself the need for military retaliation of the surgical strike, the surge in attacks on security camps in Kashmir shows it may have chosen to give fillip to militancy in Kashmir.
As massive unrest following Burhan’s killing underlines, Kashmir is once again threatening to become the battle-ground – even while the militancy may not rise to the levels of the nineties. Though there are certainly local causes which are contributing to the fresh recruitment into militant ranks, the spike in infiltration shows that the prevailing India-Pakistan equation has once again become a factor in the situation.
“There is a reason for it. Violence in Kashmir no longer alarms international community but it does make a difference to how India and Pakistan respond to each other,” said Naseer Ahmad, a local journalist adding that a deteriorating Kashmir situation could bring the state back in limelight and force New Delhi to discuss it with Pakistan.
“Kashmir could thus once again become an issue on par with New Delhi’s concerns on terrorism”.
However, the situation remains fraught with unintended consequences. “Any major attack either on the Kashmir border or in the Valley interiors could suddenly raise the stakes,” said a police officer. “But the security agencies are cognizant with the threat and are taking every possible measure to pre-empt such attacks”.
In fact, following the surgical strike, security forces have met with a reasonable success in preventing the successive attempts to attack the security installations across Kashmir. The attack on an Army and BSF camp in Baramulla was successfully foiled by the alert personnel – albeit one BSF jawan lost his life in the exchange of fire.
Similarly, seven militants were killed in two separate gun battles in North Kashmir as Army foiled two infiltration bids along the Line of Control and repulsed an attack on an Army base. First the troops along the LoC in Nowgam and Rampur sectors of North Kashmir foiled three infiltration bids which killed four militants.
At Ratan Post in Nowgam sector, troops of 20 Dogra noticed movement of around six militants infiltrating during the night. Army challenged them and they opened fire leading to a gun battle. Later four bodies were recovered from the area.
One more infiltration bid was foiled in Nowgam sector and another in Rampur sector where militants tried to sneak it but fled back to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir after Army fired at them.
This was followed by the killing of three militants on October 6 when they tried to storm the Battalion headquarters of 30 Rashtriya Rifles of Army at Langate in Kupwara district. The Army retaliated and militants fled. Police and Army chased them and trapped them in nearby orchards.
But as EDI attack underlines, the militants haven’t given up. The attempt appears to mount more and more such attacks to inflict casualties on the security personnel.