Updated June 11th, 2024 at 22:03 IST

Escalation of Terrorist Activities in Jammu’s Pir Panjal Region Raises Alarms Among Security Forces

This escalation marks a significant shift in the region, which had largely remained peaceful since 2003.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
Jammu and Kashmir | Image:Republic
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Jammu: The Pir Panjal region in Jammu and Kashmir, encompassing Rajouri and Poonch districts, has witnessed a troubling escalation in terrorist activities over recent months. This resurgence of violence marks a significant shift in the security landscape of an area that had largely remained peaceful since 2003. The heightened terrorist actions pose a severe threat to both civilians and security forces, demanding urgent attention and robust countermeasures.  

The latest attack occurred on Sunday evening when a bus carrying pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi district was ambushed by terrorists. The bus, travelling from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, plunged into a deep gorge after terrorists opened fire, resulting in nine fatalities, including three women, and 33 injuries. The Resistance Front (TRF), reportedly backed by Pakistan, claimed responsibility for this heinous act. This incident is the second of its kind targeting pilgrim buses in the region in the past three decades, following a similar attack on Amarnath pilgrims in 2017.  

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Joint Security Operation in Response to Increasing Attacks  

In response to the escalating violence, a joint security force operation headquarters was swiftly established at the attack site in Reasi. The Police, Army, and CRPF have launched a comprehensive search operation to apprehend the perpetrators. Security forces from both Reasi and the neighbouring Rajouri district are actively involved in this mission to locate and neutralize the terrorists responsible for the recent attack. Former J&K DGP SP Vaid emphasized that the terrorists likely originate from the Rajouri-Poonch forests, indicating a strategic shift in their operations towards the Jammu region.

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This alarming trend has not been limited to a single incident. On May 6, terrorists ambushed an Air Force convoy in Poonch, resulting in one fatality and four injuries. The attackers employed sophisticated weaponry, including US-made M4 rifles and AK-47s, underscoring the severity of the threat. Former DGP SP Vaid stressed the urgent need for security forces to track down and eliminate these terrorists swiftly, reflecting a growing concern over the increasing attacks in the region.  

Increased Focus on Pir Panjal Region by Terrorists  

The Pir Panjal region, historically free from terrorism since 2003, has seen a resurgence of major attacks since October 2021. In the past seven months alone, 20 soldiers, including officers and commandos, have been killed in action. Over the past two years, more than 35 soldiers have lost their lives in the Rajouri-Poonch area, highlighting a worrying trend of escalating violence and increased casualties among security forces and civilians.  

On November 22, 2023, an encounter in Rajouri resulted in the deaths of two Army captains and three soldiers. Following massive search operations, two Pakistani terrorists were also neutralized. A senior Army officer, speaking anonymously, noted that the security situation in Kashmir has improved significantly, but infiltration activities have now shifted focus to the south of Pir Panjal.  

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Terrorist Attacks Shifts to Rajouri-Poonch

The shift in terrorist operations towards the Rajouri-Poonch districts reflects an evolving threat landscape. Enhanced measures implemented in recent years, such as strengthening border fences, increased deployment, and advanced surveillance equipment, have significantly reduced the success rate of infiltration in the Kashmir Valley. However, terrorists and their handlers are now exploiting alternative routes through Rajouri-Poonch, necessitating a recalibrated response from security forces.

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The withdrawal of troops from these regions, following their designation as a zero-terrorism zone before 2018, inadvertently enabled militants to establish new bases. The primary focus of infiltration has now shifted predominantly to areas south of Pir Panjal, indicating the need for a sustained and comprehensive security strategy to counter this renewed threat.  

As the security forces continue their operations, the government and military officials emphasize the importance of vigilance and robust countermeasures. The evolving tactics of terrorist groups demand an adaptive and proactive approach to ensure the safety and security of the region's inhabitants and to prevent further escalation of violence in the Pir Panjal region. 

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Published June 10th, 2024 at 15:04 IST