Post-Pulwama attack, security situation in Kashmir improved : CRPF IG

The proactive approach of security forces in the aftermath of the 2019 Pulwama terror attack has led to a huge improvement in the situation in Kashmir, a senior CRPF official said on the fourth anniversary of the strike that killed 40 personnel of the paramilitary force.

In the attack by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists in the south Kashmir district on this day in 2019, an explosive-laden vehicle hit a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy at Lethpora when it was heading from Jammu to Srinagar on National Highway-44.

“The situation in Kashmir has improved post the Pulwama attack. Stone pelting incidents do not take place anymore while ‘hartals’ have come to an end. Record tourists are arriving in Kashmir,” CRPF Inspector General (Operations) M S Bhatia told reporters after a wreath laying ceremony at the Pulwama Martyrs’ Memorial, around 21 kilometres from Srinagar.

Bhatia said there is “excellent” synergy between security agencies in Kashmir and “we are proceeding to wipe out terrorism from the Kashmir Valley”.

“We are working against the terror ecosystem and keeping an eye on OGWs (over-ground workers) who provide logistics and shelter to terrorists. We are trying to deny them space where they can execute any plans,” he said.

The CRPF has taken various steps towards modernisation of weaponry and gadgets to ensure that terrorists are not able to carry out another Pulwama-like attack, the officer said.

“Modernisation is a work in progress. The national highway is under round-the-clock surveillance through CCTV cameras. We are using drones and have 12 stations along the highway. We have inducted (land) mine-proof vehicles and bullet-proof vehicles as well. The impact can be seen on the ground,” Bhatia said.

On killings of members of minority communities in Kashmir last year, Bhatia said, “It is a sign of cowardice to target an unarmed person.” “We are carrying out area domination. We are determined to protect minorities,” he said.

Additional Director General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Vijay Kumar, told reporters that 15 of the 19 militants involved in the Pulwama attack have been either been killed or arrested.

“Nineteen terrorists were involved in the Pulwama attack, eight have been neutralised (killed) while seven arrested. Four are still at large and of them, three of them are Pakistanis, including (Jaish-e-Mohammed chief) Masood Azhar,” he said.

Kumar said in the last three years, the Jaish-e-Mohammed has been “wiped out”. Only seven to eight terrorists are active, he said.

“At least five of them are foreign terrorists in which Musa Sulaimani is active in Kulgam district. We will get him soon,” he said.

Asked about the recovery of grenades and other explosives from overground workers, Kumar said terror outfits are focusing on using pistols, grenades and sticky bombs.

“Focus is on pistol, grenades and sticky bombs. We are busting small modules and our focus is on narco-terrorism and terror funding. In last one month, Rs 41 lakh has been recovered,” he added.

Kumar said only 37 local terrorists were active in the Kashmir Valley. But of them, only two have been active for more than two or three months, he said and added that “Farooq Nali and Riyaz Chatri are old. Rest of them have joined militant ranks recently”.