Kashmir unrest: Biggest combing operation in 15 years has 4,000 armed personnel conduct door-to-door searches

Security agencies in the Kashmir Valley have intensified their efforts to flush out militants, and the recent attacks on banking facilities may just have been the final straw. Media reports have suggested that a massive combing operation took place over the last couple of days, and as many as 4,000 personnel have been pressed into action.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

According to a report in The Indian Express, the operation involved over 4,000 personnel — including four battalions of Rashtriya Rifles, eight companies of CRPF, and five platoons of J&K police, including 30 women constables, and the Indian Reserve Police.

"A cordon operation of this magnitude has not been undertaken in Kashmir in the last 15 years. The purpose of the operation is to exert pressure on militants and force them to move out of their comfort zone. The ravines and orchards around the Rambi Ara river (in Shopian) provide ideal hideouts for militants. They will not be able to congregate and move in large groups now," a senior army official was reported as saying.

In retaliation to the operation, locals resorted to stone pelting. A vehicle being used by the soldiers was attacked, and the driver was killed in the ambush. A report in The Times of India said those injured were transported to hospitals in Srinagar.

The operation saw the re-introduction of door-to-door search of houses, a practice stopped in the late 1990s. The troops asked villagers to assemble in a common area so their homes could be searched. The operation followed intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, including foreign terrorists, in the area, an official told The Times of India. However, the report added that no contact had been established with the militants.

To ensure the militants don't slip back in after their operations took place, the forces also carried out a "reverse sweep", the report further added. They also laid out a cordon in Khudwani in Kulgam district, after a tip-off about the presence of LeT militants, but militants escaped with public support, a cop said.

The sweep was unprecedented in its scale, but was reminiscent of a similar operation conducted in October last year, when door-to-door searches took place over a 12-hour period in the Valley's Baramulla area.

Over 700 houses were searched in that operation, and over 44 people were detained after incriminating evidence was recovered from them, according to The Indian Express report from last year.

"For us, the raid was a reminder of the old days of militancy, when the army used to conduct crackdowns in our localities and search our homes for militants. They came into our house in the afternoon and searched every room. We were asked to open even trunks and boxes. They climbed up to the attic," said Rafiq Ahmad, a resident of Tawheed Gunj, adding that the army told them they were looking for "wanted stone-pelters".

Updated Date: May 05, 2017 13:32 PM

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