This year will pose a unique challenge to the terror masters since they have not been able to achieve their desired goals in the summer months. Infiltration, which is the mainstay of their terror plan during the summer, was at an all time low this year.
With the onset of winters, the terror masters based in Pakistan reshape their strategy in view of the constraints posed by the climatic conditions The pattern of infiltration changes, the modalities governing terrorist-initiated strikes change and the methods adopted to cause disruption and divisiveness also change.
This year will pose a unique challenge to the terror masters since they have not been able to achieve their desired goals in the summer months. Infiltration, which is the mainstay of their terror plan during the summer, was at an all time low this year. Proactive counter infiltration posture by the Indian Army, supported by advanced technology deployed along the Line of Control (LOC), helped thwart concerted infiltration bids and brought the success rate of infiltration down to negligible levels.
At the same time, security forces achieved major success in counter terrorist operations across the state. More than seventy terrorists have been reportedly killed this year, most of them during the summer. These include some prominent commanders like Abu Qasim of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). He was a senior and experienced operative whose elimination has caused a severe setback to the terror organisation.
Despite tremendous pressure from their masters across, terrorists operating in the Kashmir valley could not carry out the desired number of strikes. The security forces, on the other hand, achieved major success in selective targeting of terrorists on the basis of precise intelligence, mostly provided by the locals.
Since fresh infiltration was down to a trickle, the number of terrorists operating in the state could not be reinforced; the numbers, consequently, have fallen down to about 140. Terrorist activity continues to remain restricted to the Kashmir Valley despite many attempts to increase the area of influence. Those available are involved in an internal struggle for supremacy, A senior terrorist of the Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM), Abdul Quyoom Najar, raised the banner of revolt in August/September 2015 and created his own outfit, the Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI). As many as twenty terrorists of the HM and some foreign terrorists operating in the valley have joined LeI. With negligible success in infiltration and great loss of operative cadre, the terror establishment is facing a crisis.
The winter strategy of the terror masters will need to factor in the setbacks that their organisation has faced during the crucial summer months. Normally, the thrust of infiltration shifts during winters from the snow bound areas of the Kashmir Valley to the hilly terrain of Poonch and Rajouri as also along the International Border (IB) in Jammu. Terrorists take advantage of the dense fog and forestation along the LOC and the IB to carry out their nefarious designs.
This year, the terror masters need to ensure a higher rate of infiltration. So, they cannot afford to restrict themselves to the traditional winter routes of infiltration. Hence, there is likelihood of concerted infiltration bids in the Kashmir Valley also. Terror masters are likely to send large groups through the snow bound areas of Kashmir in the hope that some will be able to pass through.
They will not be inhibited by the knowledge that most will die in this attempt due to hostile weather and the remainding will be killed by the Indian Army’s counter infiltration action. If there is anything in Pakistan that is in ample supply, it is Jihadi mercenaries.
Terror mongers will also put tremendous pressure on the terrorists operating in Kashmir to striks, regardless of the difficulty and the fear of elimination. Terrorists normally leave the forests and come down to the urban areas during winters and this is where they are likely to strike.
The government and the security forces have to come up with a structured response to the strategy that the terrorists and disruptive forces will adopt during the crucial winter months. As a first step, the Indian Army will need to gear up for ceasefire violations along the LOC and IB throughout the winter. These violations will be carried out to facilitate terrorist movement and infiltration.
Secondly, the security forces will need to remain ready for more than normal terrorist initiated activities in Kashmir during the winter. This will also open a window of opportunity to pull the terrorist rats out of their lairs and go for precise elimination.
Jaibans Singh (The writer is a defence analyst)