There are worrying signs that infiltration has increased across the international border, south of the Jammu region. Intelligence reports on Pakistani intruders having entered this region have surfaced over the past few weeks. Many of these intrusions may have occurred in autumn, and appear to be continuing.A high-ranking army officer in an authoritative position revealed (on condition of anonymity) in a chat with The Quint, that the intruders appeared to be streaming in this winter, from that southern belt.Efficacy of the Intelligence NetThis year’s extraordinarily harsh winter has made it very difficult for intruders to attempt to cross the Shamsabari range in the Kupwara district in north Kashmir—which has offered major crossing opportunities in the past.The officer said it was possible that the intruders had plugged into the routes used by smugglers.A senior intelligence officer confirmed that this trend has been noticed, but maintained that many of those who had recently shown up on the intelligence radar, had most likely crossed in higher numbers a couple of months ago, rather than in the recent weeks.The fact that this trend has been noticed even after the intruders have slipped into the local population gives a positive sign regarding the efficacy of the intelligence net.New-Age Militancy on Back Foot as Al-Badr Chief Eliminated in J&K?Militant Activity Might Pick Up After Mid-JuneIt is not clear what plans have been hatched for the new intruders. They might seek to make their way to the Valley, to connect with their compatriots already billeted there. This could lead to more strident activity in spring and summer. The very heavy snows this winter may delay the spring. Ramzan is to begin in the first week of May this year.This could mean that militant activity might only pick up after mid-June. That could buy time until the Lok Sabha elections, which are due in April-May. Already, political activity has picked up, even in south Kashmir, which has witnessed much turmoil in the past few years. It is not clear whether the intruders from Pakistan might seek to disrupt this.Questions Looming Over Upcoming ElectionsThere is still a question mark over whether the elections to elect a new assembly will be held along with the Lok Sabha elections. A strong lobby within the government is pressing for this, so that voters only have to go to the polling booths once.Although polling for local bodies’ elections went off relatively smoothly, the influx of infiltrators could possibly signal danger for the conduct of assembly polls.Review: How LeT’s Ties With Pakistan & Kashmir Can Harm IndiaFocus of Security Forces & Fewer Militant RecruitmentsThis trend of infiltrations could signal the emergence of a new threat at a time when the forces have had amazing successes in zeroing in on – and killing – local militants in south Kashmir. Over the seven months since the Ramzan ceasefire ended in mid-June, most of the high-profile militants in south Kashmir have been killed.Over the last four years, the focus of the forces has been on the highly-motivated militancy in the south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Shopian, and Kulgam. Waves of militants – most of them teenagers – had been recruited from these areas, and had in some phases, inflicted damage on policemen, CRPF camps, and even on army convoys.It appears that the killing of Mannan Wani (Aligarh Muslim University scholar turned militant) had a dampening effect on the leading militants in the field. After he was killed in October 2018, recruitment calls had ceased. According to intelligence reports, a few fresh boys did join in the last couple of months of 2018, but the number of fresh recruits was limited to three or four each month.Sleeper CellsWhile the focus has been on south Kashmir, a large number of foreign militants has been lurking in north Kashmir, within the Valley. They have gathered there over the past few years, but have not yet been very active.Indeed, there have been attempts to cross the Shamsabari on an almost daily basis over the past five years. In several phases, four or five attempts have been made each night. Large numbers are suspected to be in the Hajin area, in the forests of Bandipora to the northeast, and in the forests around Langat and Rafiabad areas in the northwest of the Valley.(The writer is a Kashmir-based author and senior journalist. He can be reached at @david_devadas. 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.) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.