SOURCE: THE PRINT
India’s security and defence agencies are keeping a close watch on Pakistan amid the coronavirus pandemic as the neighbouring country continues to target Indian assets, both technologically and militaristically. The latest such attempt was the creation of a fake mobile app replicating Aarogya Setu, the healthcare application released by the central government that lets a user know if a Covid-19 patient is in the vicinity.
The fake app by Pakistani intelligence agencies was apparently sent to Indian defence personnel through WhatsApp from the UK to “steal info”.The Pakistani establishment even launched several fake handles to create a wedge between gulf countries and India. A Pakistani ID @pak_fauj changed its name to Omani royalty Mona bint Fahd al Said @SayyidaMona to spread the propaganda, which drew a statement from the Princess herself against the impersonation.
Meanwhile, ceasefire violations by Pakistan have continued at the Line of Control (LoC) despite a global lockdown due to Covid-19. Several LoC violations have included targetting of civilian locations.
Terror infiltration attempts have also begun, while soft targets, like security personnel at checkpoints, have come under attack in Kashmir.
A new outfit, The Resistance Front, has also emerged in the Valley, which security agencies believe is another proxy terror group launched by Pakistan that will try to pass off as an indigenous outfit.
Defence sources told ThePrint that terror training centres across the LoC are running in full steam, with an estimated 300-350 terrorists present at these launchpads.
The first signs of Pakistan’s intention emerged on 15 March when Prime Minister Imran Khan skipped the SAARC leaders’ video conference on coronavirus. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for that meeting when he urged SAARC nations to come together to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Khan was represented by his special assistant on national health services, Zafar Mirza, who raised the Kashmir issue at the discussion.
Later, on 10 April, India took a swipe at Pakistan after the country insisted on bringing the Covid-19 initiatives under the SAARC framework.
Five days before that, five terrorists were killed in an operation along the LoC in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district after they infiltrated from Pakistan. Five Indian Army commandos were also killed in action that day.
At the time, Lt Gen B.S. Raju, the general officer commanding of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, said the incident clearly showed the complicity of Pakistan in aiding and abetting infiltration and, as a consequence, terrorism in the Valley.
“This act of Pakistan is especially reprehensible because when the whole world is fighting Covid-19 and its aftermath, here is Pakistan aiding and abetting infiltration,” he said.
Speaking to ThePrint, former Indian envoy to Pakistan T.C.A. Raghavan said one should not be surprised by Pakistan’s behaviour.
He said there are institutions in Pakistan whose job is only to target India no matter what.
“They are doing the job. There is nothing to be surprised about,” he said.
A former special secretary in the cabinet secretariat, who did not wish to be identified, said Pakistan is only trying to hide its internal affairs.
“They have never let up on their agenda and why would they do that now? This is more important to them to hide their failures on the economic front, and also corona,” he said.
LoC draws fire
Ceasefire violations have only increased in times of the pandemic.
There have been at least 1,197 ceasefire violations by the Pakistani Army this year. In March alone, there were 411 violations. This was much higher than the 267 violations last March, which was immediately after the Balakot strike.
Such has been the enormity of tensions at the LoC that Army chief Gen M.M. Naravane travelled to Kashmir and the forward locations to take stock of the situation on 17 April.
While there are no official estimates of casualties on the Pakistani side, sources in the Army said there have been several fatal and non-fatal casualties.
“If you go by average figures, I would say that there is at least one fatal casualty every week on the Pakistani side and three-five non fatal casualties because of our response,” a senior Army officer said.
These numbers are based on the intercepts and human intelligence on the ground.