Even as latest inputs suggest attempts by terrorists to step up strikes in J&K coinciding with the anniversary of Battle of Badr due on May 11, the security forces have put the prime local terrorist outfit in Kashmir — Hizbul Mujahideen — on the backfoot by neutralising it’s top commander Riyaz Naikoo.
Sources in the security establishment said that while the immediate leadership crisis is bound to throw Hizbul’s plans in a sort of disarray, there could still be a backlash from other Hizbul commanders down the hierarchy or even by Pakistani outfits like Jaish e Mohammad or Lashker e Taiba, to “avenge” Naikoo’s death with a spectacular strike.
The past couple of weeks have witnessed heightened terrorist activity, with the Army and CRPF suffering reverses and fatalities in Handwara and Kupwara. The Central security establishment sees the spike in terror attacks in Kashmir as a phenomenon usual to Ramzan, when most terrorist groups get active and step up operations in the Valley.
“This was not the case last year as the forces were on the top and neutralising terrorists in good numbers. With the anniversary of Battle of Badr approaching on May 11 (17th day of Ramzan), we expected terrorists to attempt more strikes as it is widely believed by outfits like Jaish e Mohammad and Lashker e Taiba — now operating under the garb of The Resistance Front (TRF) — that they go to “jannat” if they kill non-believers in this period.
But the forces decided to pre-empt the terrorists by going for intelligence-based strikes, so as to put them on the backfoot and upset their designs,” said a senior Central para-military officer.