Deccan Chronicle

COBRAS to scope rugged J&K terrains

- YUSUF JAMEEL | DC SRINAGAR, AUG. 1

The Commando Battalion for Resolute Act or COBRA, a special operation unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trained to conduct counter-insurgency operations in all manners of rugged terrain, will soon be moved in Jammu and Kashmir to take on separatist militants entrenched in woods of the scenic Himalayan region.

The Union ministry is reported to have given its nod to deploying COBRAS initially in the southern parts of the Kashmir Valley and Pir Panjal region comprising twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch where a few hundred militants including many foreigners are

reported to be deeply seated in dense forests. The officials say that these militants are “hiding” in jungles to escape the intensifie­d counterins­urgency campaign of the security forces underway in the plains.

They occasional­ly come down from the hills and after carrying out terror attacks relocate to the forests, said an official who spoke to this newspaper on condition of anonymity. The officer also said that rough terrain

and poor connectivi­ty often come in the way of the security forces’ counterins­urgency operations while these are advantageo­us to the militants.

COBRAS who are proficient in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare will be deployed in these areas to supplement the security forces’ effort to flush them out.

COBRA battalions, establishe­d in 2008-11 to counter the Naxalite movement in Bihar and other Naxal affected states of the country, have since gained “lot of experience” in asymmetric warfare and their “successful law enforcemen­t” is believed to be one of the major factors of the Naxal’s waning influence in these states.

Kashmir Observe reported on Tuesday that the 205 COBRA battalion which was stationed in Bihar is being prepared for counterins­urgency operations in J&K. Quoting an unnamed CRPF officer, the daily said that the elite commandos, who arrived in Jammu and Kashmir a few months ago, went through the training in different centres and are ready to be deployed in the north and southern districts of the Kashmir as part of “hot pursuit of militants in the forest areas of the Valley.” “Since Naxalism is shrinking, the COBRA commandos have been shifted to the Valley to assist the existing counter-insurgency grid,” it quoted the officer as saying.

The officer further said that the commandos have been made familiar with the Kashmiri so that they can understand the local dialect and “will assist the counter-insurgency grid in carrying out anti-terror operations.”

The Union home ministry had in 2009 approved raising of ten COBRA battalions to meet the challenges posed by the armed militants in the Red Corridor, comprising the eastern, central and the southern parts of India where the Naxalite-maoist insurgency had the strongest presence.

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