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A pattern, message in Jammu attacks

A pattern, message in Jammu attacks

Any planned peace initiative has been rendered dead in the water.

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Last Updated : 14 June 2024, 19:19 IST
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The string of terrorist incidents in Jammu from June 9 to June 12 have shattered the illusion that the peaceful atmosphere in which the Lok Sabha elections took place was a sign of the changing mood on both sides of the Line of Control.

In Reasi, nine people were killed when terrorists targeted a bus in which they were travelling. After the driver was shot dead, the passengers were killed when the out-of-control bus fell into a gorge. Many in the bus survived, albeit with injures, due to the fall. What might have happened had the bus remained on the road at the mercy of the attackers is simply too horrific to contemplate. The timing of this attack, at the same time as the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi and his new cabinet, suggests that those behind the attack were seeking to challenge the new government on its claim of having restored peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Three more incidents followed in quick succession over the next two days. Terrorists fired at two different checkpoints in Doda, in Jammu's Chenab Valley, injuring several security personnel. In Kathua, villagers alerted security forces about the presence of terrorists in the area. A CRPF jawan was killed in the exchange of fire that followed. 

The incidents are a continuation of a pattern that began in 2021, when terrorists began targeting the Jammu region. Last year, 20 soldiers were killed in ambushes on military vehicles in the Poonch-Rajouri area. Senior police and military officials have stated that all the attacks have been carried out by groups of terrorists from across the LoC, trained and well-resourced to remain hidden for long periods of time. They are alleged to have infiltrated the LoC and spread out in different parts of Jammu. If this is true, their ability to evade detection over months shows something is amiss in the way intelligence agencies are doing their work in that area. 

The Pakistani leadership had held out from congratulating Modi when the election results came out. But coming as they did a day after the Reasi attacks, from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his elder brother and ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, the felicitations were tone-deaf, especially as the latter spoke of replacing “hatred with hope”. In response, Modi emphasised the need for peace and security. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the government would focus on “finding a solution” to the “issue of years-old cross-border terrorism”. Politically weaker in his third term, Modi would want to signal to domestic audiences that his resolve against terrorism is unshaken. For now, it is safe to assume that any planned outreach to Pakistan has been shelved. 

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