Bengaluru, May 28: The Sopore killings and targetting of telecom companies pose a new challenge to the security agencies in Kashmir. Lt General Subrata Saha the General Officer Commanding 15 Chinar Corps said that the incidents related to telecom sector in Sopore has a new dimension and army was analyzing it.
While it is pretty clear that the militants are targeting telecom companies in a bid to cut off communication, the other question is who are these militants? There were posters found in the targeted areas of the Lashkar-e-Islam a lesser known militant group.
Targeting the telecom sector:
Militants and naxalites both have chosen to target the telecom sector. They either fire at the employees and kill them or destroy all communication equipment in the area. The mobile towers are often the target as this would hamper communication which is most important for security forces in violent prone zones.
If one looks at the Sopore attacks, it also becomes clear that the incident occurred ahead of the Amarnath Yatra. There were warning signals that militants would launch attacks ahead of the Yatra. In fact the militants had also warned all mobile companies to wind up operations in Sopore. A couple of hours after the warnings were issued, grenades were lobbed at the mobile tower.
This resulted in panic and the mobile firms shut down and all shops which were recharging pre paid mobile phones were closed. The militants even went a step ahead and warned and beat up those persons who had rented out their premises to put up mobile towers.
Hampering security operations:
It is very clear that the militants had attempted hampering security operations in the area. There was a huge challenge ahead of the Amarnath Yatra and the militants decided to cut off the main form of communication in the area. Most of the mobile companies have shut shop and their employees are too scared to get back to work.
The security forces have a huge challenge ahead of them to instill confidence in these companies and bring them back to work. Several people will turn up for the Yatra and if the mobile services are down, it is going to cause a great deal of problems for them. Even the security forces will find themselves on the backfoot if the mobile services are not operational.
There is already a blame game on in Kashmir. The army cannot be present everywhere all the time and this has raised questions about the alertness of the local police. It is clear that despite the warnings by militant groups, the local police did little to prevent the attack.
The lie called Lashkar-e-Islam:
For starters there is a group known as the Lashkar-e-Islam. However the focus has never been Kashmir and these militants have stuck to the Khyber Agency which is part of the tribal administered areas of Pakistan. Founded in the year 2004 by Mufti Munir Shakir, this group has never shown any interest in Kashmir.
The outfit was considered to be a strong force until 2008 when it had claimed to have 1,80,000 members in the Khyber Agency. The same year the outfit was in the news when it changed its name to the Jaish-e-Islami. However this outfit began to dwindle and remained just a name on paper after the Operation Khyber was launched by Pakistan.
In the month of March 2015 the outfit announced that it was joining the Tehrik-e-Taliban. The group made this announcement after it feared going out of business. Today all the members of the LeI are part of the Tehrik-e-Taliban and both have a common anti-Pakistan agenda.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban is an outfit which is focusing solely on Pakistan and Afghanistan and has no interest in Kashmir whatsoever. Hence it is difficult to believe that the Sopore attacks were carried out by the LeI and the more one looks incident, it becomes clear that it could be the handiwork of a proxy outfit nurtured by Pakistan.