While recruitment has risen in recent times, the terrorist groups are facing scarcity of arms and ammunition, says Major Gen Rashim Bali

NEW DELHI: Anti-terror operations in Kashmir valley have reached a phase where the new recruits lack the ability to withstand firefight against the security forces. 

While recruitment has risen in recent times, the terrorist groups are facing a scarcity of arms and ammunition.

Major Gen Rashim Bali said, “The youths joining the terror groups lack will. The firefight lasts as less as five minutes as they are unable to sustain firefight with the forces.” Also, the SFs have constricted the space for new terror recruits within the valley to train. “The ones who are picking arms might have not fired more than a few bullets, adds Maj Gen Bali.

Major General Bali is the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Victor Force handling the area of South Kashmir which encompasses an area of 14,000 sq Km with a population of 44 lakh including the approximately 9 lakh youths. South Kashmir in recent times has become the epicenter of terror operations.

The operational instructions to the ground soldiers have also been tweaked post the abrogation of Article 370 and the aim has been to minimize collateral damage. “We are making sure that the damage to people's lives and property must be minimized even if it takes a longer period to take out the terrorist,” said Major Gen Rashim Bali. “We try to not harm the locals even in the cases where one or two terrorists run away because we know they won’t be able to sustain long.” In three recent cases, the forces cordoned places of worship for more than a day so that it is not harmed.

This entire operational modulation has a deeper meaning, according to defence analysts Maj Gen SB Asthana (Retd). “This humane approach is a conscious decision and is a message to win the hearts and minds of the local population.” The selfish politicians and separatists have been using the locals for their selfish interests but with this approach, people’s trust will get restored.

As per Maj Gen Asthana, infiltration along the Line of Control (LoC) has been minimized with increased deployment and intensive use of technology including surveillance equipment. The weapons have been seized and finances have dried up due to the Financial Action Task Force pressure and raids on people supporting the terror groups financially.

There are a few more than 200 terrorists active in Kashmir. South Kashmir has around 120 active terrorists. In all, 105 youths joined terror groups this year and of them only 86 remain active.

The top leadership has been eliminated. About half of those active have joined within a year, Maj Gen Asthana said.