Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Monday said the Army was looking into reports that snipers may have entered the Kashmir Valley to target security forces, PTI reported. The Army was yet to find any sniper weapons, he said.
Since mid-September, suspected militants affiliated to the Jaish-e-Mohammed have killed three defence personnel in sniper attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. Rawat said that the Army was studying if the pattern of attacks showed they were carried out by snipers.
“Whether these attacks have been done by snipers or not, this is something we are still studying,” he said. “But to say that snipers have infiltrated and that they have sniper weapons...we have not found any sniper weapon.”
Rawat described the reports of snipers infiltrating the Valley as “premature”.
The Army chief said that even normal weapons could have been used to attack the security personnel as a good rifle has a shooting range of 200 metres-300 metres. “I always believe in commenting when I have concrete evidence... to say that, yes, we have been able to trace some snipers and that we are fully aware that people have been trained in sniping,” Rawat said at an event in New Delhi.
Intelligence inputs have pointed to the presence of at least two separate “buddy” groups of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, comprising two militants each, in the Kashmir Valley. They reportedly entered the country in early September and are suspected to be based in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, with the help of some overground workers of the banned outfit.
Unidentified security officials said that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence has trained these militants to carry out sniper attacks in the Valley. They have also been equipped with M-4 carbines, used by the United States-led allied forces in security operations in Afghanistan.
Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar is accused of having carried out several terror attacks in India, including the one on an Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016, where 17 members of the security forces were killed. India has requested the United Nations to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, a resolution that China has blocked several times since last year.
On Sunday, suspected militants shot dead Peoples Democratic Party worker Mohammed Amin Dar in the Gangbugh area of Srinagar. Dar later succumbed to the bullet injuries. The attack came the same day a sub-inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police was allegedly abducted and shot dead by militants in Pulwama district.