Over 150 terrorists trained by Pakistan have reached launch pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) to infiltrate India, The Quint has learned. The development comes days after an intelligence input about a ‘reception party’ of terrorists in Handwara led to an encounter on 3 May, killing two terrorists while also resulting in the killing in action of five officers and soldiers of the Indian Army and J&K Police.
Speaking exclusively to this journalist, J&K DGP Dilbag Singh said that, “Over 150 Pakistani terrorists are ready on launch pads across the border for infiltration into India.”
“Earlier on 5 April, five dreaded terrorists were killed in an encounter with security forces at Keran Sector of Kupwara, which lasted for three days. Our troops and security forces are keeping strong vigil even though desperate attempts of infiltration are being made from Keran and other areas along the Line of Control (LoC),” the J&K Police Chief elaborated.
With Summer Setting In, Pakistan Likely to Infiltrate Further
Twin episodes in Handwara in the first week of May, in which 8 officers and soldiers of the Indian Army, J&K Police, and CRPF were killed in action, have led to apprehensions about the possibility of fresh infiltration from North Kashmir which could open a new front for the forces apart from the hot-belt of South Kashmir.
Over the years, North Kashmir has seen a decline in terror attacks as well as recruitment.
The Handwara casualties have led the security establishment to redraw their calculations even as they see it as a ‘one-off’ incident.
Sources have indicated to this journalist that with the onset of summer, Pakistan is desperately using Poonch, Uri, Karnah for infiltration from the LoC, while the International Border (IB) is also being used in Samba and Kathua sectors near Jammu.
While officials refuse to come out with an exact combined figure of local and foreign terrorists in Kashmir at present, top sources in the security establishment in New Delhi indicate that ‘the number is worrying’.
‘Drone Terror in J&K’
The Quint has exclusively accessed an Intelligence note about a meeting held two days ahead of Ramzan in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) where it was decided to use drone prepared by Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, for Hizbul Mujahideen cadre in Kashmir.
“This drone will be capable of carrying 5kgs IED upto a distance of 3 kms from the controller, and the controller will be able to bring it down and blast it,” the Intel input indicates.
“The meeting which was attended by Zaki-Ur-Rehman, Hamza Adnan, Mossa Bhai, Syed Salahuddin, Khalid Saifullah Sahib, Tahir Aijaz Sahib, apart from Naib Amir of Hizbul, decided that the drone would be provided to Valley cadre as soon as possible,” the note also mentions.
‘Do or Die Situation for Pakistan’
As the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir completes 9 months, the civilian government in Pakistan, its Army, and even the terror groups, are under tremendous pressure after failing to diplomatically garner support or pressurise New Delhi over the unilateral constitutional changes in Jammu & Kashmir.
Top sources in the security establishment in New Delhi have indicated that it is a “Do or die” situation for Pakistan in the summer of 2020 in Kashmir. “Pakistan can’t let this summer go.”
“For Pakistani Terrorists, This is Best Time to Infiltrate India”
“Alternate routes of infiltration have been used over the last several months through the International Border in Punjab and Jammu. Yet, for heavy equipment and ammunition, the Line of Control (LoC) has to be used in J&K, as many trucks are not plying via Punjab and Jammu,” the sources also indicated.
Former Chief of the 15th Chinar Corps in Kashmir, Lt Gen (Retd.) Satish Dua, agrees. “For Pakistani terrorists, this is the best time to infiltrate India. Snow has started to melt, and the fence is damaged in many parts. While the fence is still not up, Pakistan is utilising this time window to even withstand frost bytes and harsh terrain to go for infiltration,” he told The Quint.
“For Pakistan, it’s business as usual. They will not stop terrorism because of the coronavirus pandemic. They will instead take advantage of the lockdown since they are under pressure to show some results in Kashmir, months after the abrogation of Article 370.”Lt Gen Satish Dua to The Quint
Why Pakistan Rebranded LeT as ‘The Resistance Front’
With the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary around the corner, Pakistan has been visibly distressed over its name not being removed yet from the Grey List of the the international terror financing watchdog.
“To escape the FATF’s eyes, Pakistan has rebranded the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba as The Resistance Front (TRF), with support from other terror elements, to give it an indigenous outlook. Instead of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) (which was led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik), there is now a new The Resistance Front,” J&K DGP Dilbag Singh confirms.
“The only difference being that they were without weapons earlier, and now the new front is operating with weapons in Kashmir,” he says.
The Resistance Front, on its Telegram channel and social media accounts, has been claiming several terror attacks in the recent weeks in Kashmir – and warning of several more in the days ahead. While terror recruitment locally hasn’t yet shown a downward trend, most analysts believe that the ropes of the TRF are being pulled from Rawalpindi.
“We Neutralised Them Last Year, We’ll Do It Again”
“The terror groups have very smartly rebranded themselves. Twenty-three-year-old boys are not the brains behind The Resistance Front – it is the ISI’s game plan. They are bringing terror groups together and bringing them online. This will also help them at the FATF, since TRF isn’t listed under the UN designated terror groups list, and bringing them on the list could take more than one and a half years for India,” says Lt Gen Satish Dua.
With the killing of 28 terrorists over the last one month in Kashmir, and the recent increase in fatal casualties for security forces in the Union Territory which has led to nationwide anger, India is looking towards an unusually hot summer in Kashmir after many years.
“Summers are always hot. Summers in Kashmir are hotter than what one imagine,” J&K DGP Dilbag Singh quips.
“We controlled and neutralised them last year. We will do it again this year,” he assures.
(Aditya Raj Kaul has a decade long experience in covering conflict, internal security and foreign policy for various national media outlets. He tweets at @AdityaRajKaul. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for them.)