Srinagar/New Delhi: Amidst a spike in terrorist violence in the valley, the top most army commander in Kashmir has said that launch pads across the Line of Control are full of terrorists waiting to infiltrate.
“All launch pads are full of terrorists and every night for the last one month attempts are being made to push more and more men into the valley. Every night in some area or the other an attempt is being made to infiltrate. According to the information we have, there are 225 to 250 terrorists at various launch pads”, said Lt General AK Bhatt, General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps.
There have been 57 terrorist attacks in the 27 days of the Ramzan ceasefire compared to 18 incidents during the same period immediately preceding May 16 when the government non-initiation of combat operations by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir came into effect, according to an assessment by the union home ministry.
20 grenade attacks have taken place in Kashmir since the ceasefire as opposed to five in 27 days before the month of Ramzan. The number of weapon snatching incidents has gone up from one to seven, according to official figures. 20 terrorists have been killed at the Line of Control after the Ramzan ceasefire.
The army says it would be tough if the ceasefire was extended for the Amarnath Yatra that begins later this month.
“The Amarnath Yatra is very critical to us. If suspension of operations continues, we will have a degree of difficulty to carry out our role. But whichever way the government decides, we are ready”, said Lt General Bhatt.
Extending the ceasefire will be a political call but inputs collated by the Multi Agency Centre (MAC) suggest that terrorist violence could go up in the last few days leading to Eid.
“Ramzan ceasefire was to help residents of Kashmir observe the holy month without violence. People are happy and our purpose is served”, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval told NDTV.
At a time the centre is worried about growing incidents of terrorists being in touch with their handlers over the social media, especially WhatsApp, Lt General Bhatt said stringent measures are required.
Pointing to the use of social media to mobilise crowds during encounters and for stone-throwing, Lt General Bhatt said “in a democracy, social media, which is a privilege of the people, is being misused here”.
Revealing that 62 Kashmiri youth have joined the terrorist ranks this year, he admitted that it was a major concern for security forces.