Death of Zakir Musa has curbed militant mobilisation in Kashmir Valley, says J&K DGP Dilbag Singh

Two weeks after the killing of Kashmir's most wanted militant Zakir Musa in an encounter with government forces in Tral, Jammu and Kashmir's top cop Dilbag Singh says that the high-profile militant killing will reduce militant mobilisation in the Valley.

The director-general of police said that the whole epidemic of militancy will change on the self-radicalisation front. "When the icon is gone," Singh said, "people who get influenced by these icons will have no one to idolise."

Already, the officer said, militancy has come down by around 30 percent in the Valley.

"The numbers [of active militants] will be around 269 this time, including 100 non-local militants," he said, adding, "Local numbers have certainly dropped."

In the past five months, security forces have on an average killed 20 militants in the Valley. There have been a total of 45 gunfights since the beginning of this year and 101 militants (including 25 foreigners and 76 local militants) have been killed. During this period, 59 members of armed forces personnel have also lost their lives in combat operations.

Last month, during Ramzan, Kashmir witnessed 13 gunfights, which left 28 militants dead. The forces credit the non-implementation of NICO (non-initiation of combat operations) for their major combat success. The anti-militancy operations continued, even as former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed for the implementation of NICO during the 30-day long fasting period in the Valley.

 Death of Zakir Musa has curbed militant mobilisation in Kashmir Valley, says J&K DGP Dilbag Singh

Dilbag Singh hands welfare relief to police personnel injured during election duties. Image courtesy: Kashmir Police

Counterinsurgency operations only intensified in the Valley after the 14 February Pulwama bombing that left around 40 CRPF men dead.

"We were given free hand to deal with militants and their support base after Pulwama, which was never the case with the elected government in the state," said a top-ranking police officer, "It helped us hit the entire terror infrastructure on multiple levels."

The major focus of these operations was Masood Azhar's militant arm, Jaish-e-Mohammed — the outfit whose local recruit rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into the paramilitary convoy on the afternoon of 14 February. The brazen attack almost brought the two nuclear neighbours on the brink of war. Since then, JeM has lost almst 40 of its armed members in different operations in the Valley.

The officer credits human intelligence for the increased operations in the Valley.

"We are very conscious with our efforts, even when people continue to throng the encounter sites," Singh said, "While we carry out the law and order component, we have been telling people to maintain restrain. We avoid unnecessary reactions wherever we think people may get affected."

In Kulgam, he said, the forces had to recently withdraw because people carried the militants and saved them. "We didn’t want collateral damage," he said.

Singh added that the fight is against people who are out there to cause damage.

"We are people-friendly. In some cases we have to use pellet guns because people go to extremes. It happens, but it's very rare," he said.

Internally, Jammu and Kashmir's top cop said the forces have certainly learnt their lessons on how to deal with bigger mobs. "But you have to give it to people who have also understood that encounter sites have to be avoided," he noted.

But since these anti-militancy operations repeatedly impose internet blockades in Kashmir, the masses often decry the "online hostage" situation.

"It's an operational compulsion," Singh said, "Issues like mob mobilisation, fake news, spreading message across the borders and fake videos being uploaded can be dealt with through a clampdown on the internet alone. It's a standard operation to maintain law and order. We have seen how an internet shutdown helps to maintain law and order. And since we don't have any other alternative yet, this will continue for some time."

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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2019 12:55:13 IST