In new J&K strategy, police to focus on local trouble-makers | India News

NEW DELHI: As the attacks on ‘soft’ civilian targets, largely with pistols fired by Kashmiri youths with no previous police record and minimal arms training, disturb the peace in Kashmir, the Jammu & Kashmir administration is contemplating a reorientation of its police force so as to bolster ground-level, beat policing so that local trouble-makers engaged in petty crimes and anti-social behaviour or merely having a criminal bent of mind are identified, monitored and, if needed, detained for questioning.
Sources in the security establishment told TOI that it is essentially this lot of Kashmiri youths, not yet on radar of police or intelligence agencies, that are being taken in as neo-terror recruits or “hybrid” terrorists by regular terrorists, including Pakistani ones who prefer to play handlers and supply them small weapons like pistols to stage one-off attacks on civilians. These hybrid terrorists are often lured with money or drugs. After the attack, they conveniently return to the safety of their populated neighbourhoods. This, incidentally, helps the Pakistan-based masterminds maintain deniability and project attacks in J&K as indigenous.
“Finding such hit-and-run terrorists living like any other regular youth in the neighbourhood is like looking for a needle in the haystack. The efforts of the J&K police are currently focused largely on operations to neutralise ‘identified’ terrorists, both Pakistani and locals, based either on ‘chatter’ picked up by the agencies or declarations in social media of any local youth joining a terrorist outfit. To tackle the ‘invisible’ hybrid terrorist, J&K police need to go back to beat policing, identify the local trouble-makers and vulnerable elements within their beat area and put them under surveillance. Where there is enough evidence, more stringent action such as detention or arrest may be followed through,” said a senior officer.
Sources said the revised J&K strategy under consideration — which is likely to be discussed at the high-level meeting on J&K convened on Friday by home minister Amit Shah and to be attended by LG Manoj Sinha, NSA Ajit Doval and senior officers of the armed forces, central security agencies and J&K police — is to constitute specialised units or cells at the thana level to identify the local troublemakers, keep an eye on them and pick them up for questioning if a terror angle is suspected.
After the attacks on minorities in October 2021, the J&K police had ordered a major terror crackdown in the valley that saw over 400-500 youths being detained. A similar action can’t be ruled out in days to come, given that the detentions in October had given police a breather and helped them to recoup and restrategise.
An officer of the central security establishment said the terrorists were now going after soft civilian targets as they may be finding it difficult to stage bigger, organised attacks due to intensified anti-terror operations that have killed several cadres. “Local youths are getting killed within days of joining terror ranks.
A comparison of the six-year period between 1996 and 2002, when NC was in power, and the last six years, shows a 98% decline in civilian attacks in J&K. The total number of terrorists holed up in J&K is now down to 150-170. Hence, the terrorists are now using the last trick in the book, including drafting ‘hybrid’ terrorists for one-off attacks on vulnerable civilians,” stated the officer.



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