The Army on Wednesday said security forces targeted the Jaish-e-Mohammed after the Pulwama terror attack in February and this has discouraged militants from taking over the leadership of the militant outfit in the Kashmir Valley, PTI reported.

“We targeted the JeM [Jaish-e-Mohammed] leadership and the situation now is such that there is no one willing to take up the leadership of the JeM in the valley,” Lieutenant General KJS Dhillon said at a press conference in Srinagar. “In spite of Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress the JeM.”

Dhillon is the commander of the Chinar Corps.

The Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama suicide attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers were killed on February 14.

Dhillon said 69 terrorists have been killed this year and 12 have been arrested. Forty-one of the 69 were killed after the Pulwama attack, and out of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed and 13 were from Pakistan, ANI quoted him as saying.

Dhillon said Lashkar-e-Taiba militants had killed a 13-year-old during an encounter in Hajin area of Bandipora district and asked if it was jihad (holy war) or “jehalat” (barbarism). “Operations against the terrorists will continue with full vigour and we will not let terrorism rise,” he said.

He said the weekly ban on civilian traffic on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was a “temporary measure” and it would be reviewed after the final two phases of elections in the state.

Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said security forces have been successful in containing militancy in the Valley in 2018 and this year, barring stray incidents like the attack in Pulwama.

“This year, stone-pelting and law and order engagements reduced drastically,” Singh said. “We did face some law and order situations during counter-insurgency operations, but those have been fewer than before.”

He said recruitment of local youngsters into militancy has reduced. “That is a very healthy sign,” Singh said, according to PTI. “There were very large-scale successes in counter-insurgency operations.” The police chief said 272 terrorists were killed in 2018.

Singh said a militant was arrested from Bathinda area of Jammu in connection with a blast in Banihal earlier this month.

Meanwhile, a suspected Pakistani militant belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba who was allegedly tasked with reviving militancy in certain areas of the Kashmir valley was arrested from Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported, quoting police. Police presented Mohammad Waqar Awan, a resident of Mohalla Miana in Mianwali area of Punjab in Pakistan, before the media at the Police Control Room in Srinagar.

Awan told reporters that he had received training for four months at a camp in Muzaffarabad. Before he joined militancy, he said he was told that security forces committed atrocities against the people of Kashmir but he said he had not witnessed such incidents.

Senior Superintendent of Police of Baramulla, Abdul Qayoom, said Awan had infiltrated in the Valley in July 2017. Police chief Dilbag Singh said Awan’s “confession” was evidence of how Pakistan is sending youths to India for militancy.