Counter-intelligence operations in Kashmir Valley are expected to gain momentum once again, with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval directing security forces to brace themselves for an increase in terrorism-related violence over the coming days. Information available with security agencies suggests Pakistan has increased infiltration attempts and also activated a number of terror modules in the region, where intelligence inputs suggest there may be as many as 300 active terrorists.
"This figure also includes the recent infiltrations. In last 70 days our priority was to stabilise ground situation but now we will again focus on our counter intelligence activities," a senior officer in North Block told NDTV.
According to the officer, security forces had avoided direct confrontation with people living in the Valley, which was why the Army did not intervene in Soura (a notified area in Srinagar) where, last month, a teen boy injured in protests held the day after the centre withdrew special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.
"Access was not the priority in Soura. But we wanted to avoid casualties, so we did not venture in," he explained.
However, all that is set to change after terrorists killed a truck driver from Rajasthan in Shopian district on Monday. The two terrorists, one of whom was a Pakistani national, involved in the attack also thrashed an orchard owner.
"Days of popular agitation or stone pelting are over now," an officer on the ground, who is involved in strategising operations, said.
The officer also said that over the last few weeks while the number of security operations had not gone down, there was little intelligence being generated because of the aforementioned policy of avoiding direct confrontation.
"In last two years there have been a spate of encounters... such momentum cannot be kept always," he explained.
Security forces have killed more than 400 terrorists in the past two years; most of these were in the hinterland with only 23 along the Line of Control. More than 70 terrorists were killed in the first seven months of this year.
Three grenade attacks have been reported since August 5. One shopkeeper has been killed for opening his store in defiance of a curfew imposed by the terrorists and an orchard belonging to a Shopian resident was burned.
As far as operations by security forces are concerned, six terrorists have been killed and two arrested. In addition, various terror modules have been busted by Jammu and Kashmir Police with as many as 12 people suspected of links to terrorists arrested.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while addressing counter-terrorism squad National Security Guard on its raising day, said the zero tolerance policy pursued by the Narendra Modi government was showing results.