India’s top national security adviser said Saturday that a large number of suspected militants are trying to infiltrate Kashmir and accused Pakistan of trying to foment trouble in the region.
“About 230 terrorists are ready to infiltrate into different parts of Kashmir,” Ajit Doval, national security adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, told reporters. “A large number of weapons are being smuggled and people in Kashmir are being told to create trouble."
Military officials said the information was based on radio intercepts and ground intelligence.
India has long accused Pakistan of supporting and training militants to foment a separatist insurgency in Kashmir, charges Islamabad denies.
A month after India brought its only Muslim-majority territory under its direct control, scrapped its semi-autonomous status and deployed thousands of troops to prevent violent protests, residents in Kashmir continue to face curbs on travel and communications restrictions. Although most landlines are functioning, the internet and mobile phone services have still not been restored.
“We would like to see all restrictions go, but it depends on how Pakistan behaves,” Doval said. "If Pakistan starts behaving, terrorists don't intimidate and infiltrate, Pakistan stops sending signals through its towers to operatives, then we can lift restrictions."
He cited an attack that injured three persons including an apple merchant and a two-year-old girl when unidentified persons opened fire in the apple-growing region of Sopore on Saturday. Police called it “a merciless act of terrorism.”
Officials say that 90 percent of the Kashmir valley is free of restrictions during the daytime and hundreds of schools and government offices have re-opened.
But attendance by students in schools has been thin, commercial areas in the capital, Srinagar, still remain largely shuttered and the city’s streets continue to be deserted, defying efforts by Indian officials to return the region to normalcy.
The spokesman of the Jammu and Kashmir government, Rohit Kansal, has blamed “anti-national” forces for preventing shops from opening.
The region has also witnessed sporadic demonstrations by stone-throwing protesters, most of them in Srinagar. According to unconfirmed reports, scores of civilians and security persons have been wounded in the protests.
Rights group Amnesty International this week launched a campaign urging New Delhi to lift the communications blockade. “It has grossly impacted the daily lives of Kashmiri people, their emotional and mental well-being, medical care, as well as their access to basic necessities and emergency services,” according to Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty India.