‘Militants plan to boost their numbers in Valley before polls’

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Srinagar, November 24:  Army in Kashmir have chalked out a plan to maintain vigil along Line of Control even during the winters to thwart any infiltration bid by militants, who are planning to boost their numbers ahead of Lok Sabha and Assembly polls due next year.

“We will be maintaining vigil along the LoC this winter as there are intelligence reports that militants will make attempts to boost their numbers in the Valley ahead of the next year’s elections,” a senior army officer said.

The officer, who wished not to be named, said there was desperation in the militant ranks to reinforce their numbers as several top commanders of outfits were killed or arrested during the current year.

“Most of the infiltration bids along the LoC were foiled this year while we had fair bit of success against those militants operating in Kashmir. There is definite desperation to push in more militants from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir ahead of the elections,” he said.

There has been no change in the activity on the other side of the LoC as the training camps and the launch pads are still operational, he said.

The officer said while there has not been much snowfall along the mountainous areas of the LoC this year so far, militants have in the past tried to dodge anti-infiltration grid by attempting to sneak in at the peak of the winter.

“Less snowfall in higher reaches of the Valley means that the chances of infiltration are still higher. In the past, we have witnessed desperate attempts by militants to infiltrate in February and March when the passes along the LoC are still covered with 10 to 20 feet of snow,” he added.

With Lok Sabha elections due early next year and Assembly elections a few months later, the security agencies are bracing for an increase in militant attacks in Kashmir, he said.

“The army and other sister agencies like Police are getting excellent human intelligence about the presence of foreign militants in Kashmir. That is the main reason for the successes we have had over the past few years. We see no reason why there shall be any change in that,” the officer said.

However, the security grid is worried about the lack of authentic inputs about presence of local militants or former militants, who have been recycled to take up arms again, he said.

“To take care of this aspect, the area domination exercises will be intensified in the coming days,” he said.

While the police have put the number of active militants in Kashmir at around 150, the army estimates their number to be in the range of 300 to 350.

“The numbers are not important… The Mumbai attacks were carried out by just a handful of terrorists. We definitely have far bigger number active in Kashmir at the moment,” the officer added.

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