Infiltration attempts by terrorists from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POK) along the Line of Control (LOC) in the Jammu division suggest that Pakistan is trying to reinstate terrorism in the Muslim-dominated Rajouri and Poonch districts that have been peaceful for 18 years since the Indian Army’s Operation Sarapvinash destroyed terrorist hideouts and killed several terrorists. The two districts have witnessed encounters, as well as the recovery of arms, ammunition, and hawala money used to fund terrorism and cross-LOC narcotics trade.
Not only Pakistani agencies but also the Kashmir terrorist commanders seem determined to revive terrorism in Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi, Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar, which have been by and large peaceful for the past few years. Between 1990 and 2002, these districts were the scene of several major terror attacks, but the situation was brought under control after the removal of many local militant commanders.
During the past three months, five encounters have taken place in the Rajouri district, which borders Jammu, between the security forces and terrorists. Seven terrorists and three soldiers have been killed. In one instance, terrorists took refuge in the forest area, which extended over three days. Five terrorists were also killed at the LOC in Poonch district as they attempted to infiltrate from POJK.
Army officers said some launch pads along the Line of Control in Rajouri had been reactivated by the Pakistani Army and ISI for pushing in trained terrorists. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and their splinter groups have been killed or were making infiltration attempts in the two districts. On Monday, an encounter that started on Sunday in the Thanamandi forests of Rajouri continued with one terrorist killed and a soldier wounded. Since it was suspected that the newly infiltrated group of terrorists might have laid traps in the area, the Army was proceeding cautiously.
In the Kashmir valley, the Moughal Road, which provided direct access to Rajouri and Poonch, is now convenient for terrorists to move between the two regions. An encounter erupted on this road after a terrorist group from POJK infiltrated. While constructing the road link, several natural habitats of animals were slit, which posed a significant security concern to the armed forces and forest department.
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There is still no sign of the terrorists who threw a grenade at the residence of a BJP leader in Rajouri town on 13 August, killing a 2-year-old child and injuring seven family members. On 9 July, three terrorists and two soldiers were killed in an encounter in Sundarbani, Rajouri. On 8 July and 19 August, two terrorists were killed in Thanamandi. The security forces recovered four sticky bombs that could be tagged with vehicles to explode later during a search operation in a forward village of Poonch.
The police in Poonch recovered hawala money amounting to Rs.25.81 lakhs on 10 August. Several fresh recruits and overground workers (OGWs) of various terrorist groups have been nabbed by security forces in the past few days. Joint Army and J&K police raids on 8 September in Rajouri and Poonch districts recovered cash worth Rs.1.64 crores related to the cross-LOC narcotics trade, pistols, and Chinese grenades. One person was absconding while three were arrested.