Kathua Attack | In J&K, 7 Security Personnel Have Died in the Last 4 Days Alone

On the other hand, the six militants killed in the same period were all locals.

6 min read

Just seven days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Parliament that the militancy in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was in its last stage, a string of militant attacks and back-to-back gunfights in the union territory (UT) of Jammu has precipitated a volatile security scenario.

The police and security forces are currently leading multiple search operations to track down the militants responsible for the deadly attack on the army on 8 July when the assailants tossed grenades and sprayed a convoy with bullets near the Machedi region of Kathua district in Jammu.

The attack resulted in the killing of five jawans of the 22 Garhwal regiment while five others sustained injuries. They were shifted to the Sub-District Hospital, Billawar, as per media reports. The carnage coincided with the anniversary of the killing of Burhan Wani, who had reignited militancy eight years ago, culminating in the 2016 uprising.

A day before the Kathua attack, militants had also struck a sentry post 233 km away in Rajouri. The post is located near the 144 Territorial Army Headquarters at Galhotti village in Manjakote. The attack resulted in the injury to a serviceman who was later shifted to the hospital. He is said to be stable.

On Wednesday, the police and security forces engaged with at least two suspected militants in the Ghadi Bhagwah forest belt between the Doda and Kishtwar regions of Chenab Valley in Jammu. The gun battle ended inconclusively and is likely to resume soon. When this story was being written on 10 July, the police said that a sentry outside Sang police post in the Basantgarh area of Udhampur district opened fire after noticing “suspicious movement” around 8 pm.

On the other hand, the six militants killed in the same period were all locals.

Tehri Garhwal: Family members and others pay last respect to the mortal remains of Rifleman Adarsh Negi, who was martyred in the recent terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, during his funeral, in Tehri Garhwal district, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

(Photo: PTI)


Terrorism Nearing The End of The Road?

The worsening of the security situation came on the heels of the prime minister's 3 July address to the Rajya Sabha when he said that the campaign against militancy in J&K was approaching its end and that his government had devised a “multi-pronged” strategy to wipe out the remaining militant networks.

“Terror and separatism are ending, and the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir are leading this fight,” he said, during his response to the Motion of Thanks in the President’s address. “Our fight against terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, in a way, is in its last stage, last leg. We are moving with a multi-pronged strategy to eliminate the remaining terror network there.”

Before the attacks in Jammu, the neighbouring Kashmir Valley also saw two big gunfights in the Kulgam district. Four militants associated with the Hizbul Mujahideen group were killed during a gun battle on 7 July at Chinnigam village in the Frisal area of the district.

On the same day, two more militants were killed in Modergam village in the same district. Senior officials said that two army personnel were killed during the two gunfights. While Para Commando Pradeep Kumar Nain was killed in Modergam, Prabakar Praveen of 1 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) was killed in Frisal.

On the other hand, the six militants killed in the same period were all locals.

Rudraprayag: Bereaved family members mourn the death of Naib Subedar Anand Singh who was martyred in the recent terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, in Rudraprayag district, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

(Photo: PTI)

In total, seven security forces personnel have died in various militant attacks in J&K in the last four days alone. On the other hand, the six militants killed in the same period were all locals, sparking concern that local recruitment was still happening despite the claims of the police that it had come down. The police were able to identify the slain militants as Towheed Ahmad Rather, Zahid Ahmad Dar, Yawar Bashir Dar, Shakeel Ahmad Wani, Aadil Hussain Wani, and Faisal Bashir. All of them are from Kulgam district.

Concern Over Local Recruitment

A video circulating online showed security forces inspecting a house where the militants killed in Frisal had allegedly taken shelter.

In the video, the army personnel had found open an entry into a hidden room behind a cupboard. The army handed over the phone to the owner and asked him to crouch his way into the room and film it. It shows how militants have managed to hole up in the midst of the population without being traced.

Official sources told The Quint that security forces had information about the presence of militants in other parts of Jammu as well. “Terrorists are on the forces’ radar but their exact location has not yet been pinpointed,” they said. “Hopefully, the forces will track them in the coming days and an encounter may take place.”

Security sources also said that foreign militants had deeply infiltrated the forests of the Jammu region. “Unlike in Kashmir, militants aren’t remaining silent. We are likely to see challenging days ahead as there may be more attacks,” they added.

On the other hand, the six militants killed in the same period were all locals.

Dehradun: Family members and others mourn during the funeral of Naik Vinod Singh, who was martyred in the recent terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, in Dehradun, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

(Photo: PTI)


Two Different Militancies

Although both Jammu and Kashmir divisions have been witnessing militant-related activities, the dynamics of insurgency in both these regions are markedly different. In Kashmir, it is the security forces that initiate the action after receiving intelligence. Whereas in Jammu, the initiative has rested with the militants.

“Incidents in Kashmir are happening randomly and sporadically. Operational dominance is at its highest in 35 years,” said Zafar Choudhary, senior editor and analyst based in Jammu. “Jammu, however, is without the security presence.”

Choudhary said that at the same time, militants are showing they are capable of carrying out attacks simultaneously at multiple places that are hundreds of kilometres apart. “Just when the security forces realise they are starting to dominate Rajouri and Poonch, the attacks take place in Reasi and Kathua.”

It is not easy to pull out soldiers from one place and then redeploy them in an area with no troops. That’s what is working out in favour of the militants, he added.


The Timeline of Jammu Attacks

In the areas of Pir Panjal that lie in the range of Himalayan mountains abutting Pakistan, militants have taken advantage of the regional topography to plot and perpetrate shock-and-awe attacks. The region has seen several big attacks over the last few years.

Since the massacre of nine Hindu worshippers returning from the Shiv Kori shrine in Reasi on 12 June last month, there was one more attack on 18 June when militants ambushed J&K Police at the Behramgala area of Poonch.

The Quint has tracked almost all major militant activities that have been taking place in Jammu since October 2021. Before the Reasi attack last month, militants killed an IAF personnel near the Taranwali area of Surankote in Poonch in May. On 22 April, militants killed 40-year-old Muhammad Raziq in Shadra Sharif in Rajouri. On 22 April, a member of the Village Defence Guards (VDGs) Muhammad Shareef was shot dead by militants in the Chochru Gala region of Udhampur.

It is clear that much of the high-impact militant activity this year has been centred around the areas of Jammu. Interestingly, the latest wave of violence is coming as the union territory is in the midst of poll preparations.


Will The Attacks Impact the Polls?

In May, J&K saw its first major electoral exercise since the revocation of Article 370 in 2019. Last year in December, when the Supreme Court upheld the government’s decision to scrap the special status, it gave a timeline for Assembly polls to be held by September.

Last week, BJP President JP Nadda toured Jammu and held meetings where he instructed the party activists of the Central Working Committee to get ready for the polls and secure victory for the party. The dates for the elections are likely to be announced after the Amarnath Yatra ends on 19 August. Last week, Union Minister G Kishan Reddy, under whose supervision the elections in J&K will take place, chaired the first executive meeting to review poll preparedness in the region.

Political experts in Kashmir, however, said that these attacks are not going to adversely impact the prospects of the election.

“The attacks are not as widespread as they used to be once upon a time,” said Noor Ahmad Baba, retired professor of political science at Central University, Kashmir. “The recent Lok Sabha elections showed that people understand the need to be represented in democratic institutions. That impulse currently overrides many other political dynamics at play here.”

(Shakir Mir is an independent journalist. He has also written for The, Article 14, Caravan Magazine, Firstpost, The Times of India and more. He tweets at @shakirmir. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More