Tribune News Service
Srinagar, March 1
In both anti-insurgency operations last week at Hajin in Bandipora district of north Kashmir, militants managed to escape taking advantage of darkness. After a brief exchange of fire, youth clashed with security forces to disrupt the operations and helping nearly five militants involved in both operations escape the security net. One of the militants, a Pakistan national, who had fled in an injured condition, succumbed later.
Earlier this month, a charged crowd of villagers had thrown stones during a cordon and search operation to help a militant escape in the volatile but relatively calm Palhalan village in Baramulla district of north Kashmir.
The south Kashmir phenomenon of crowds converging on gunfight sites is fast picking up in north Kashmir too. Security forces are already alert to the situation.
The four districts of south Kashmir have been the epicentre of renewed militancy, especially after the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in 2016.
Last year, according to the government figures, at least 126 youth (out of them over 100 from south Kashmir) joined militancy —- the highest in nearly a decade. The new recruitment and the infiltration count in 2017 —— the highest in nearly a decade —- has added to the worries of the security grid. At least 124 militants managed to sneak in last year.
In 2017, the security forces launched a massive offensive against militants and they were able to kill over 200 militants, including some top commanders. However, the killings do not appear to have hit the militancy in region.
Intelligence sources hint that this year few militants have already managed to sneak in and nearly a dozen youth have joined militancy, including research scholar Manan Wani.
Lt Gen AK Bhatt, 15 Corps Commander, claims that Pakistan has deployed a large number of militants in 30-member groups on the launch pads across the LoC for early infiltration into Kashmir.
The Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba remain the major militant groups. While Hizb has its cadres spread across the Valley, the new worry for forces is the resurgence of the Jaish-e-Mohammad founded by Maulana Azhar Masood. The group has carried out many deadly attacks on the security installations across the state last year. Two of the local cadres of the group were part of a fidayeen attack in south Kashmir.
“The JeM has been given a larger role in south Kashmir, possibly at the instance of Pakistan. Our inputs suggest that the Jaish is taking up a more active role,” a senior security officer said.
He said militants of different groups operate jointly. “The recent instance where the Hizb helped top Lahkar-e-Toiba commander Naveed Jutt to escape is a pointer to the fact that the militants now operate together,” said a police officer. “Jutt’s escape has given a boost to the Lashkar, whose top leadership was killed last year.”
While security agencies consider the “situation well under control”, analysts fear the year may be more violent.
The biggest concerns for the security apparatus are “local recruitment, participation of people in militant funerals, disruption of operations by youth, infiltration and radicalisation among youth.”
Number of active militants
Other militant groups
Most Read In 24 Hours
Don't MissView All
Says poor largest segment in country, deserve first right on...
The Canadian allegations regarding India's involvement in th...
30 locations linked to news portal, journalists searched; di...