Highlights

  • Former R&AW chief's theory on spate of targeted killings in J&K
  • AS Dulat speculated that a Srinagar-based terror cell might be behind attacks
  • Govt employees, police personnel, civilians, non-locals killed in recent attacks

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AS Dulat, former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) said recently that a terrorist cell, comprising of 10-12 operatives is likely to be behind the killings.

They come, they shoot, they flee - for the past few weeks, this terrorising routine has played out on multiple occasions in Jammu and Kashmir. Hindu minority members, Muslim majority members, government employees, police personnel, migrants from other states - none have been spared.

While the authorities are yet to be able to put a stop to the targeted killings, a former spymaster has some theories about who might be behind the attacks.

AS Dulat, former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) told The Wire recently that a terrorist cell, comprising of 10-12 operatives is likely to be behind the killings.

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He opined that the cell is based in Jammu and Kashmir's capital city Srinagar, and it is most probably Pakistani terrorists who are running the operation. Most significantly, he suggested that these terrorists are using information gathered from "sympathisers" in the government system.

In the May 19 interview Dulat called the current wave of attacks the most "dangerous" form of terrorism since the dilution of Article 370, which led to the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status in August 2019.

He said that the terrorists behind the attacks are unknown, unlike earlier times when agencies and forces had an idea of the terrorist commanders. Dulat also said that it is very serious that the terror cell is probably operating from Srinagar - a phenomenon not seen since the 1990s.

He also called the terror cell "professional" in its operations. With terrorists using small arms which are more difficult to detect, Dulat said that silencers might be making a comeback to the Valley. Lastly, the ability of terrorists to tap into the government system for information is a cause for concern.

The spate of attacks has led to fresh concern regarding the security situation in the Union Territory. On May 12, government employee Rahul Bhat was killed at the Chadoora tehsil office in Budgam. Five days later, a grenade attack occurred at a liquor store, killing employee Ranjit Singh and injuring 3 others.

Then, on May 24, policeman Saifullah Qadri was killed near his Srinagar home. His 9-yr-old daughter was also injured. Just a day later, terrorists killed TV artiste Amreen Bhat at her Chadoora home. Her 10-yr-old nephew was also injured.

On May 31, government school teacher Rajni Bala was murdered by terrorists in Kulgam. On June 2 morning, bank manager Vijay Kumar, who hailed from Rajasthan, was shot dead in Kulgam. On the same day, in the evening, Dilkhush, a labourer from Bihar was killed, and another was injured in an attack in Budgam.

The Narendra Modi government has responded to the attacks with high-level meetings. With the Amarnath Yatra beginning on June 30, and lakhs of pilgrims heading to Jammu and Kashmir, the administration has only a few weeks to bring the situation under control.

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