Srinagar: Kulgam, Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Sopore, Tral – these are just some of the places in Jammu and Kashmir that have faced the wrath of separatist extremism. Conflict in the Kashmir Valley has been on the rise lately and Indian security forces have valiantly defended our borders with Pakistan, even at the expense of severe casualties.
Sniper attacks by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists have emerged as a new source of worry for security agencies in the Kashmir Valley, with three personnel having been killed since mid-September, prompting the law enforcement agencies to recalibrate their strategy to thwart such strikes by the Pakistan-based group, officials said, according to a PTI report.
The first such attack took place at Newa in Pulwama on September 18 when a CRPF personnel was injured. Security officials thought it to be a one-off strike till the recent spate of sniper attacks that claimed the lives of a Sashastra Seema Bal jawan and an Army personnel in Tral, and a CISF jawan in Nowgam.
Based on intelligence inputs, security agencies believe that at least two separate ‘buddy’ groups of the proscribed JeM comprising two terrorists each have entered Kashmir Valley in early September and have entrenched themselves in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district with the help of some overground supporters of the outfit.
The terrorists, according to the officials, have been thoroughly trained by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI for carrying out sniper attacks in the Kashmir Valley and have been armed with M-4 carbines, used by the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan.
There is a possibility that these weapons may be part of the arms and ammunition captured by the Taliban, with whom the JeM cadre was fighting the allied forces in Afghanistan, security officials in the state said. However, they said that the weapon was also being used by the special forces of Pakistan Army.
In all the instances of sniper attacks, the terrorists used a nearby hillock to carry out strikes on a security force campus when unsuspecting jawans were using their mobile phones to talk to their family or friends.
“These attacks have been precise, even while targeting a personnel inside a sentry post as he uses his mobile phone. They pick up the light of the mobile phone to carry out the attack on jawans,” said one of the officials.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, “We’ve dealt with snipers on the border regularly and have SOPs to deal with those but never in the hinterland. This will force a rethink of all manner of security and protection procedures.”
The M-4 carbine is mounted with a telescope and the terrorists are using night vision devices to locate their potential targets, the officials said. The weapon can fire at its target up to 500-600 metres with precision.
India has been seeking a ban on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group at the United Nations and designation of its chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, but its efforts have been blocked by China four times so far.