Top J&K, Punjab security officials meet to counter growing militancy in Jammu

Meeting in Kathua, where 50 residents were rounded up for questioning about the militants who carried out July 8 attack; officials discuss ways to plug holes along the international border in J&K and Punjab

Updated - July 12, 2024 02:09 am IST

Published - July 11, 2024 09:33 pm IST - SRINAGAR

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police R R Swain with his Punjab counterpart Gaurav Yadav and Special Director General of BSF, Western Command, Y B Khurania and others at the interstate security review meeting to review the security grid along the International Border following the terrorist attack on an Army Convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K’s) Kathua district, in Kathua on Thursday.

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police R R Swain with his Punjab counterpart Gaurav Yadav and Special Director General of BSF, Western Command, Y B Khurania and others at the interstate security review meeting to review the security grid along the International Border following the terrorist attack on an Army Convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K’s) Kathua district, in Kathua on Thursday. | Photo Credit: ANI

In the wake of rising militancy in Jammu, which borders both Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, top security officials from Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab held an inter-State meeting in Kathua on Thursday. At the same time, over 50 local residents were rounded up in Kathua in connection with the July 8?attack that left five soldiers dead.?

Official sources said the meeting’s top agenda was to plug the holes in the security apparatus, especially along the international border in J&K and Punjab. The officials discussed cross-border infiltration and new routes being identified by militants to fan out into the Jammu region’s two major valleys — the Pir Panjal valley (comprising Rajouri and Poonch districts) and the Chenab valley (comprising Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar).

Of Jammu’s 10 districts, nine — Rajouri, Poonch, Reasi, Udhampur, Kathua, Doda, Kishtwar, Jammu, and Ramban — have seen a rise in militancy, especially after the Union government revoked J&K’s special constitutional status in 2019.

Deadly attacks

After major attacks on the Army in Poonch and Rajouri from 2020, the militants have fanned out into the previously peaceful areas of Udhampur, Reasi, Doda, and Kathua. All these districts had been declared free of militancy by 2005.

Since April, however, eleven civilians and six security personnel have been killed by in the Jammu region, including the?five soldiers killed in the July 8 attack in Kathua. Five militants were also killed in anti-militancy operations in the region.?

Over 50 local residents have been arrested by the security agencies to track down the militants and their supporters in Kathua district, officials said. Among those arrested is a truck driver, who overtook an Army convoy on the narrow stretch in Badnote area, slowing down the speed of the vehicles just before the militant attack, sources said. Security forces are now questioning the driver.

Unlike the rest of J&K, which comes under the Northern Command, Kathua district?comes under the Western?Command,

Infilitrated through border

The inter-State meeting held in Kathua was attended by J&K Director General of Police (DGP) R.R. Swain, Punjab DGP Gaurav Yadav and the Special Director General of BSF, Western Command, Y.B. Khurania.?An official said that J&K Additional DGP (Law and Order)?Vijay Kumar and Punjab ADG, Law and Order, Arpit Shukla also attended the meeting, along with BSF officers of Inspector General-rank from Punjab and Jammu. The meeting discussed ways to enhance security?in the region, officials said.

Official sources said the security agencies suspect that most of the groups operating in the Jammu province have infiltrated through the international border in J&K and Punjab. The militants are believed to be hiding in the upper reaches of the mountains with dense forest cover in Udhampur, Doda, Ramban and Kathua.

The General Officer Commanding (GOC), White Knight Corps, along with the GOC CIF(Delta) visited Basantgarh Doda “to assess the present security situation” on Thursday. The area had witnessed a gunfight on July 9, after which the militants had managed to flee.

“The review underscored the imperative of synergy and seamless coordination between the Indian Army, J&K Police and all security agencies to maintain peace and stability in the region,” an Army spokesperson said.

Bolster security

A police spokesperson said the interstate meeting was aimed at “bolstering the security apparatus, and to focus on enhancing coordination and synergy among the BSF, the Punjab Police and the Jammu and Kashmir Police”.

The primary agenda of the meeting was to conduct a comprehensive review of the current security situation and to devise robust strategies to counter the challenges, the spokesperson said.

“The officials reviewed recent seizures and intelligence inputs, identifying key smuggling routes and methods. The meeting highlighted the importance of strengthening checkpoints, increasing frisking operations, and enhancing the capabilities of canine units,” the spokesperson said.

The officers emphasised the importance of coordinated patrolling and the deployment of advanced technology, including drones and night-vision devices to monitor and secure the border effectively.

“The officers stressed on the need for inter-agency cooperation and real-time information sharing to dismantle the narcotics networks,” the spokesperson said.

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