Pakistan-based militants are planning to target the Amarnath Yatra in the Kashmir Valley but security forces are up to the task to foil any such design, the army said on Friday.
General Officer Commanding of Army’s 15 Corps Lt General KJS Dhillon’s statement came after searches in the past few days by security forces led to the recovery of a Pakistan-made mine and a huge cache of arms from along the Amarnath Yatra route.
The Corps commander said Pakistan and its army were desperate to disrupt peace in Kashmir Valley.
At a joint press conference with Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbagh Singh here, Dhillon said they were getting specific and confirmed intelligence inputs from past three to four days that militants led by Pakistan and Pakistan Army are trying to target the Shri Amarnathji yatra.
Dhillon said joint teams of security forces launched searches along the twin routes of Baltal and Pahalgam leading to the holy cave shrine and recovered weapons, ammunition and explosives in the operations that have been going on for the past three days now.
“We had some major successes during the searches. Some IEDs were recovered which have been neutralised. The searches have yielded an American M-24 (Sniper) rifle and an anti-personnel mine with Pakistan Ordnance factory markings on it, which clearly indicates that Pakistan is involved in terrorism in Kashmir,” he said.
“I can assure you on behalf of the security forces here that this will not be allowed to happen. Designs of Pakistan and its army will be foiled at all costs. Nobody can disrupt peace in Kashmir. This is our promise to people of Kashmir and everyone in the nation,” he added.
DGP Singh said reports about massive deployment of security forces in the state were exaggerated.
“We have had number of tasks over the past nine months like elections to panchayats, ULB and Parliament. Then the Amarnath Yatra is also going on … So the forces did not have any rest during this period.
“So some forces are being de-inducted while some are being inducted as replacement. The numbers in the media are exaggerated,” Singh said.
As the Army announced threat to the pilgrimage, the Jammu and Kashmir government asked Amarnath Yatris and tourists to cut short their stay in the Valley and return as soon as possible.
Dhillon said the situation along the LoC is under control and peaceful as of now.
“Infiltration from Pakistani side is being attempted but these attempts have regularly been foiled. In one of the incidents on 30 July, three infiltrators were eliminated in Gurez sector. Yesterday night also an infiltration attempt was made in Kupwara sector,” he said.
The officer said according to available intelligence reports, all the launch pads in Pakistan-administered Kashmir are full and infiltrators are attempting to enter through LoC in Kashmir.
“It is also happening in Poonch-Rajouri. Even infiltration is happening in Jammu to Pathankot sectors. This is in addition to other routes through other countries. Infiltration is not down, attempts are being made but they are being dealt with at LoC,” he said.
Singh said Pakistan Army had resorted to ceasefire violation after a gap of four months targeting civilian areas.
“There have been ceasefire violations on 30 July, Pakistan army resorted to unprovoked artillery firing which was retaliated in a befitting manner and there after they are quiet. In case they attempt again, it would again be replied in a manner better than the previous time,” he said, adding the previous ceasefire violation to this was on March 12.
On the counter-insurgency operations in hinterland, he said the focus has been on eliminating the leadership of the militant outfits.
“In the last six seven months, we have been able to eliminate most of the top leadership and the job is still in progress,” he said.
The DGP said security forces have been able to eliminate the leadership of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish in the valley.
“The number of leaders surviving is limited. We have been able to eliminate some of the groups altogether. Ansar Gahzwatul Hind hardly anyone is left now, Al Badr is almost decimated, Hizbul Mujahideen is demolished to a large extent. Overall the number of active militants has come down,” he claimed.
He said the security forces have also targeted the overground workers’ network of the militants and arrested number of them.
“We have also taken action against banned groups like Jamaat-e Islami and JKLF,” he added.
Officials said the IED threat and activities have been on the increase in the last one year.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, S P Pani said 10 IED attempts were made in the past several months.
“We have busted five IED modules and arrested several persons. The noose has been tightened around the theft of explosive materials available locally,” he said.
He said some of the top IED experts among the militant ranks including Munna Lahori and Fayaz Panzoo have been eliminated during operations last week.