Notwithstanding the strong rumours of a plan to ‘trifurcate’ Jammu and Kashmir, the Kashmir Valley is all set to witness a no-holds barred counter-insurgency offensive. And from the security point of view, the developments of the next 90 or so days from August to October will play a big role in determining which way Kashmiri militancy goes from and may even mark a watershed period.
From October onwards, the high passes that armed infiltrators and their sympathizers use to crossover to India from Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir will be snowbound and crossing them will be a near impossibility. Logistically, it will also be difficult for the Pakistani army to organise and ensure support for such activities.
It is here that the massive buttressing of security presence and the increased troop density of recent days in the Kashmir Valley occupies significance.
The about 60,000 paramilitary troopers already stationed in the Kashmir Valley will operate in the hinterland as opposed to the frontier, which is manned by the Indian Army.
Significantly, Kashmir Valley is less than 5,000 sq km in size and comprises 10 districts. Out of the 10 districts, militancy has been hemmed into just five and therefore to a much smaller area. So the increased number of troops hemmed into just the troubled districts would perhaps imply unprecedented density of security personnel.
And that can be done by hemming in the operating militants and eliminating them while preventing any further additions.
Ostensibly, their prime mandate will be to flush out the militants in the villages, towns and the markets, prevent people from gathering and mobilizing, nab stone-throwers and smash supporting networks which form the lifeline for separatist militancy.
It takes time for any security force to settle down in unfamiliar territory and get adjusted to the geography and history. A long stint at Ground Zero will get the forces adjusted to the ground situation and equip them mentally and logistically to embark on counter insurgency measures. It will act as a force multiplier and ensure better preparations when the snow melts in early summer and infiltration becomes easier.
Significantly, with government advisories asking Amarnath yatris and tourists to stay away and the hostels already emptying of students from other parts of the country, the tourism-centric state is set to see some hard times ahead. The working season in Kashmir is from April to October—time for all types of businesses and the tourism industry to flourish.
Without doubt, the Kashmir issue can only have a political solution, but the Indian security establishment will try its best to capture a position of strength besides ensuring a conducive atmosphere before state elections are declared.