New Delhi: The ghastly attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday killing 39 personnel indicates a significant tactical shift in the strategy of terrorists as security agencies fear the vehicle-ramming assaults, last seen in 2001 Jammu and Kashmir Assembly car bombing, could become a new norm. The agencies were already devising plans to deal with rising incidents of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blasts which had returned to the state recently after a gap.
Terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack, said to be the deadliest in the last two decades. It is being termed as second only to the car bombing in 2001 which killed 38 persons. The Scorpio being driven by local Kashmiri Adil Ahmed from Kakpora in Pulwama was said to be carrying 350 kg of explosives. Two Armymen, including a Major, were killed in what was described as the deadliest IED attack in the Nowshera sector along the Line of Control (LoC) on January 11.
The return of IED blasts in J&K after three years was first noticed in Sopore in Baramulla district last January when four policemen were killed in the attack. The incident had forced the state police to work out a strategy to deal with IED blasts.
The CRPF has been battling such attacks in Chhattisgarh where Naxals have mastered the craft of using IEDs to an effect. The terror groups in the North-East have also used IEDs to attack security forces.
The tactics in J&K, however, was different as the terrorists, generally small in numbers, would break into a military installation inflicting heavy casualties in the initial breakthrough and engaging the forces as long as possible. The officials said the use of IEDs also indicates there is desperation among terrorist groups after security forces have been able to eliminate top terrorists in a massive crackdown.
The security forces killed 223 terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018, the highest in eight years. The boots-on-the-ground strategy has forced the terror groups to change tactics as India has blunted Pakistan’s move to engage directly with separatists. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelanit forcing India to warn of consequences.