The what and why behind the resurgence of terror attacks in South Kashmir

Sushim Mukul
Sushim MukulDec 22, 2023 | 16:48

The what and why behind the resurgence of terror attacks in South Kashmir

Five soldiers were killed and two others injured in the attack on December 21. Photo: Press Trust of India

In a coordinated terror attack on Thursday, December 21, four Army personnel were killed, and three were injured in South Kashmir's Rajouri district in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The convoy of two Army vehicles carrying troops was ambushed with grenades and bullets when they were on their way from Bufliaz in Surankote to Thanamandi in Rajouri, very close to the Line of Control (LoC). The News Agency Press Trust of India reported that the attack was carried out by the People's Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF), believed to be an offshoot of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).


This incident is not unfamiliar to Jammu and Kashmir, nor is the densely forested location, between Dehra Ki Gali and Bufliaz on the Mughal Road that connects the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch.

Previous incidents

  • Thursday's ambush near Topa Pir took place over 20 years after the murder of Rajouri District and Sessions Judge V K Phool at the same site.

  • The incident between Rajouri and Poonch on December 1, 2001, killed Phool, his friend, and two police personnel who were his bodyguards, reported Greater Kashmir.

  • Last month, during an anti-terrorist operation in Rajouri, two army captains and two jawans were killed after a group of terrorists opened fire at them in Kalakote, close to the DKG, reported India Today.

  • On April 20, 2021, a heavily armed terror group launched a surprise attack on a military vehicle in the Bhatta Durian in the Poonch district, using the same methods. The attack led to the death of five soldiers, reported the New Indian Express.

  • According to a New Indian Express report, between December 2021 and April 2023, the twin districts have seen a higher number of casualties among military personnel due to terrorist assaults when compared to the conflict-ridden Kashmir.

The surge in terror attacks in South Kashmir of late has not only raised concerns but also hints at a shift in the dynamics of terrorism in the region. Historically, South Kashmir and the Jammu division have been relatively peaceful, with the focus of terrorism primarily on the Kashmir Valley.



  • The Pir Panjal range, with dense forests, acts as a natural divide between North Kashmir and Jammu and South Kashmir and has become a breeding ground for terrorism.

  • The in-focus Kashmir valley, with substantial security deployment, has now become a secondary target of the terrorists. Hence, they are making efforts to attack where they are sure the casualties would be more.

  • The area's proximity to the LoC and uneven terrain provide strategic advantages for terrorist activities, often complicating counter-terrorism efforts by Indian security agencies.

  • “Anyone crossing over from the lower heights of Jammu has to traverse through multiple high ranges like Pir Panjal before they reach the Kashmir Valley, which challenges their logistical preparations and motivation. Hence shorter and intense contacts have become the norm in the Jammu region,” an official said after yesterday's attack.

  • Experts believe the surge is intricately linked to socioeconomic and political factors too. Issues such as unemployment, poverty, and the demographic changes post the abrogation of Article 370 have added fuel to the fire, contributing to the radicalization of local youth.

  • Another important factor could be the political vacuum after the state was downgraded to a Union Territory. The last major election in the region was the 2019 general election.

According to an Indian Express report, the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch were declared “militancy-free” by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in 2011.

Last updated: December 22, 2023 | 16:48
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