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Jammu Kashmir

Posted at: May 17, 2018, 2:10 AM; last updated: May 17, 2018, 2:14 PM (IST)

Army to lose advantage?

Army to lose advantage?
CM Mehbooba Mufti had asked the Centre to declare ceasfire during the holy month. Tribune file

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 16

Seventeen years after a unilateral ceasefire by the Centre failed to yield results in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army on Wednesday walked into a similar situation where it cannot initiate operations but can respond to attempts by terrorists.

An Army source said: “Our concerns have been met. Army can retaliate in case of an attack on them and also respond to any attack on the civilian population.”

Sources said the search and destroy operations (SADO) and the cordon and search operations (CASO) would be reduced, or ceased during the month of Ramzan.

The Army will still have troops out on area domination as convoys for winter stocking in Ladakh and Siachen are already moving through the Valley. Also, convoys carrying soldiers proceeding on leave need security cover.

Within the Army, there is an assessment that this period will be used by various terror groups to rest, recuperate and reorganise both manpower and weapons. These groups are currently suffering from lack of leadership and funds, besides poor coordination. Security forces are in an advantageous position now.

Three “terror groups” — Hizbul Mujahideen, LeT and JeM — are active in J&K. These “tanzeems” (organisations) are headless at the moment with their top commanders neutralised by the security forces over the past one year or so, officials said. Can this advantage be lost, is the question.

Last Sunday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the Army has to firmly handle any form of terrorism that threatens peace and harmony in the state. The intensity of operations has kept terrorists on the run and nearly 65 of them have been killed in the first four months alone this year. As many as 29 armed forces personnel have been killed in 55 terror strikes.

The LoC has witnessed 863 ceasefire violations by Pakistan and 48 infiltration attempts by terrorists, of which 24 have been successful. In November 2000, the then Vajpayee government had announced ceasefire — “Non-Initiation of Combat Operations” (NICO). But terrorists attacked the Srinagar airport, stormed then CM Farooq Abdullah’s rally. NICO was called off in May 2001.

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