Ganderbal encounter: J-K police, army intensify operations against militants

Jammu: After months of violent protests subsided in Kashmir, security forces have intensified counterinsurgency operations in recent weeks, which have left scores of militants, both local and foreigners, dead.

On Tuesday, the Army and Kashmir police launched a joint operation after receiving a tip-off about the presence of militants in Hadoora area of district Ganderbal, around 18 kms from Srinagar, after which an encounter broke out in which two militants were killed. Both the bodies and two AK-47 rifles have been recovered from the site of the gunfight.

The gunfight came two days ahead of 26 January celebration which is being held amid tight security every year in valley. The security has been beefed up across Jammu and Kashmir with forces checking vehicles on the national highways and carrying night patrols throughout the valley.

Close to a dozen militants have been killed by security forces in the last 24 days, after the unrest in valley started fizzling out, officials said.

On 19 January, security forces managed to kill Abu Musaib, an operational commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba in Bandipora district, and nephew of 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. He was active, according to police, in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district and Ganderbal since August 2015 and was involved in many militancy-related activities including an attack on a CRPF camp on Independence Day in downtown Srinagar last year, police said.

 Ganderbal encounter: J-K police, army intensify operations against militants

Representational image. PTI

This was followed by an attack on a police party by militants on the outskirts of Srinagar in Narbal crossing on Srinagar-Baramulla highway on 20 January.

On 16 January, an encounter in Awoora village in Pahalgam district left three militants dead. All three were locals and, after their death, clashes between security forces and protesters were reported from all the districts of south Kashmir. The three were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen, police said.

On 10 January another militant was killed in a gunfight in Hajin area of Bandipora district. The militant was hiding in a residential house and had opened fire on a search party of Army’s 13 RR and SOG in Hajin early Tuesday, a police official said.

On 6 January, police killed Muzaffar Ahmad Naikoo, a militant of Al-Badr outfit, in a mid-night shoot out near Machwa in north Kashmir.

On 3 January another Pakistani national, Umar Khataab, a district commander of Lashkar in north Kashmir who was active for last four years, was killed in a brief encounter in north Kashmir’s town of Sopore in an ambush.

This fresh counterinsurgency campaign to flush out militants has yielded tremendous results for forces in valley, as the efforts and resources by forces have, in recent weeks, multiplied in anti militancy operations.

The J-K government recently said that militancy related incidents have increased in comparison to 2015 and a number of measures were being taken to challenge the militancy, which included close coordination between different agencies, strengthening counter-insurgency grid and sharing of intelligence between intelligence agencies on real time basis and holding review meetings.

The government said that the militancy related incidents across the state have increased. Against 151 incidents in 2014, there were 143 incidents in 2015 which jumped to 243 in 2016.

The killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani along with his two colleagues on 8 July, last year, triggered massive protests across the Valley. Many youngsters started to snatch weapons from the police officials to manage a quick entry into militant ranks.

As many as 66 weapons, including 17 AK rifles, and over 7,000 rounds of ammunition have been looted by militants and mobs in Kashmir valley after the killing of Hizb-ul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July last year which had triggered protests.

Since July, 59 locals have joined militant ranks and more than 66 weapons have been snatched. The counter militancy operations had completed stopped during five months of street protests, but resumed and are continuing at fast pace, once the protests subsided since November last year.

Official figures from police and different agencies put the number of active militants in the state around 275 to 300 including foreigners. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti urged the police to persuade local militants for surrender probably to calm the seething population following a massive crackdown.

Updated Date: Jan 24, 2017 19:51:00 IST