Batmaloo encounter sends alarm bells through J&K security apparatus days ahead of Independence Day

Srinagar: The early morning attack by militants in the heart of Srinagar in which one policeman was killed and five others injured, coming just days ahead of Independence Day function in Jammu and Kashmir signifies the challenge faced by security establishment.  Inthe  run-up to the function, security at all entry and exit points of Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, has been tightened amid reports about a possible attack by militants on Independence Day. Security officials had asserted that it was almost impossible for militants to breach this “security wall”.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

However, the shootout at Batmaloo's Deyarwani area set off alarm bells within the security apparatus as the incident occurred less than a kilometer from Bakshi Stadium, the venue for the Independence Day function. On Sunday morning, people were still asleep when the Jammu and Kashmir Police's Special Operation Group launched a joint operation with CRPF at 3:30 am after receiving a tip-off about presence of militants in Deyarwani.

“The moment we established contact with militants during the search operation, they fired at us. Six security personnel were injured during initial fire… Parvez Ahmad, one of the injured, later succumbed,” VK Birdi, Deputy Inspector General of Police, central Kashmir, said. He added that the four militants took advantage of the darkness to flee. However, according to Birdi, two accomplices were arrested from the spot. The owner of the home in which the militants were hiding was also injured in the exchange of fire.

A senior police official said it seems the house was used by militants earlier and added that two militants were injured in the shootout. According to locals, CRPF personnel were seen following the blood trail of the injured militants. “The information was precise but they (militants) took advantage of the darkness,” said Munir Khan, AGP, Law and Order, Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Batmaloo is walking distance from Lal Chowk, the commercial hub of the Valley. It is a congested locality with narrow alleys, which makes carrying out anti-militancy operations difficult and dangerous. “Had we not taken precautions, there would have been collateral damage,” Khan said, while attending the wreath-laying ceremony of the slain policemen in Srinagar.  “We are leaving no stone unturned. We will catch them soon," Khan added.

A senior counter-insurgency official said the entire intelligence grid has been mobilised to catch these militants, who will pose a serious challenge in the days to come. What worries the establishment is the intelligence that these militants are specifically targeting the Independence Day venue.

Sources said the attackers came from south Kashmir. They gave the police the slip at a barricade established at an entry point towards the south of the city.  Barricades have been established at all of Srinagar's entry and exit points. “It's a big city,” Khan said.  “You never know where they (militants) will try to enter from.”

Compared to the past two years, this year has seen a sharp rise in the number of casualties suffered by security forces. Forty-nine security personnel have been killed since January as compared to last year, when 39 security personnel were killed.

Kashmir has seen a spurt in militancy in 2018 with 128 local youth taking up arms. Compare that to the figures in 2017 and 2016 respectively: 126 and 88 youth took up arms. These figures, which come under the PDP-BJP rule, seem to indicate that the government's iron-fisted policy of dealing with the militants has failed to produce dividend.


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Updated Date: Aug 13, 2018 02:18:35 IST

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