New Delhi: With the communication blockade in Kashmir entering its fifth week, security forces are faced with the formidable task of gathering intelligence even as terrorist movements from across the Line of Control has seen a rise.

The issue poses a serious security challenge with forces receiving scattered actionable inputs on terrorist movements to areas such as Baramulla and Shopian. Even as the Union home ministry has started lifting the blockade, albeit gradually, the live intelligence network of forces and intelligence agencies on the ground have suffered near-disintegration in the wake of a communication shutdown.

“There are two factors at play. Earlier, our live networks or informants would tip us off and now they can’t. They also don’t risk coming directly to us because they know they are being watched. Second, it was easier to track terrorist movements based on signals from mobiles and now we cannot do that anymore," said a senior security force official, requesting anonymity.

While security forces have stepped up cordon and search operations across south Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts, in the absence of technical inputs, human networks were disintegrating rapidly, the official said.

“Some of the soldiers also wear masks so as not to be identified by overground workers. So the locals have chosen not to come out and report any activity also because in doing so, there is threat to their life and families. In some cases, we are tipped off after they (terrorists) have already come and gone – so it has made tracking them that much harder," said another official, requesting not to be identified. The problem is similar along the LoC as well where the communication blackout has left a gap in intelligence inputs, the official added.

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