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Centre adopts anti-maoist policy in Jammu & Kashmir, increases IED detection units
5/15/2019 12:10:09 PM

New Delhi: Increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Jammu and Kashmir has prompted the central government to sanction an almost fivefold jump in the number of bomb detection units for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the Valley. The decision was taken after the February 14 Pulwama attack in which a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide attacker killed 40 CRPF jawans, said home ministry officials.

The Valley will now have 27 bomb detection units instead of five-six earlier, said officials, and bomb detection units will be used for each of the 62 CRPF battalions deployed in the hill state, in line with the strategy used against left-wing extremism (LWE).

“Till now, CRPF had very few bomb detection units that were deployed only after the dog squad detected something suspicious on the route,” said a home ministry official, who did not wish to be identified. “But, with the rise in use of IEDs in J&K in the past one year, the central force has been asked to train more personnel and deploy bomb detection units consisting of 20-25 personnel fiahead of the movement of convoys in the Valley. They (CRPF) will also train J&K police personnel in enhancing IEDs protection capabilities.”

A senior CRPF official said on condition of anonymity, “We have redeployed some of the bomb detection units from other states while new personnel are being trained at our IED Institute in Pune to join the J&K bomb detection units.

IEDs are a new threat in J&K.” As per home ministry data, 33 IED blasts were reported in the Valley in 2018 as compared to 21in 2017. An official, however, said that the IEDs used in J&K were much smaller (2-5 kg) than those seen in Maoist-affected areas (at least 40 kg).

“The use of IEDs gives a terrorist or group anonymity and an attack can be executed without putting their own lives in danger,” said an official of a counterterrorism agency.

Nonetheless, the official said, the number of IED attacks in LWE-affected areas declined to 77 in 2018 from 98 in 2017, and from to 32 from 66 during this period in the north-eastern states.

It may be recalled that suspected Hizbul Mujahideen operatives tried to carry out an IED attack at a CRPF convoy at Banihal on Jammu-Srinagar national highway on March 30. The suspect, Owais Amin, of southern Kashmir allegedly tried to ram a Santro car laden with explosives into the CRPF convoy at Banihal on the pattern of the Pulwama attack. However, he failed to hit the convoy as the car caught fire and was burnt.

Following the Pulwama and Banihal attacks, the Centre reviewed and revised the standard operating procedure (SOP) for convoy movement in the Valley.

A superintendent of police rank officer now leads convoys and civilian traffic is partially shut for two days in a week. The home ministry has clarified though that the closure of roads for civilian traffic will be applicable only till the ongoing general election.

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