Security forces step up offence against militants in Jammu and Kashmir, over 10 JeM operatives killed since Pulwama attack on 14 Feb

The suicide bombing that rattled Kashmir in the afternoon of 14 February was carried by a local recruit of Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Sameer Yasir March 01, 2019 11:24:05 IST
Security forces step up offence against militants in Jammu and Kashmir, over 10 JeM operatives killed since Pulwama attack on 14 Feb
  • The suicide bombing that rattled Kashmir in the afternoon of 14 February was carried by a local recruit of Jaish-e-Mohammed.

  • Aadil Dar, the suicide bomber from Pulwama, was the second fidayeen to shoot a pre-recorded video before ramming his explosives-laden vehicle onto CRPF bus.

  • Ever since its founder, Masood Azhar was released from Indian jail in the 1999 Kandahar hijacking case, JeM’s ‘suicidal’ method made it a ruthless outfit.

Since the 14 February suicide bombing that claimed the lives of 42 CRPF troopers, a massive operation has been carried out by the Jammu and Kashmir Police along with other security agencies in the Valley. The result of this effort is already showing up with at least 10 Jaish-e-Mohammed militants killed across south and north Kashmir since the Pulwama attack. The total number of militants killed since 1 January 2019 has reached 40.

Security forces step up offence against militants in Jammu and Kashmir over 10 JeM operatives killed since Pulwama attack on 14 Feb

Security forces personnel arrive for reinforcement during a gunbattle in Pulwama. PTI

On Friday, at least two militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

Acting on a tipoff, security forces on Wednesday morning launched a cordon and search operation in Meemendar area of Shopian. In a search operation that ensued encounter broke out between the two entrapped Jaish-e-Mohammed militants and the security forces. The militants were killed in the gunfight.

“It’s a coordinated effort to clear the territory of Jaish,” a top police official, who did not want to be identified, told Firstpost. “It started from their sympathisers and ended in the elimination of the terrorists. Both were from JeM and one belongs to Pakistan and one is local,” IGP Kashmir, SP Pani, said.

Wednesday’s operation was one of the successive and successful counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir, coming on the heels of a massive crackdown on dissenters and National Investigation Agency (NIA) raids on the separatists in Kashmir after the Pulwama attack.

The suicide bombing that rattled Kashmir in the afternoon of 14 February was carried by a local recruit of Jaish-e-Mohammed. As soon as the NIA took over the investigation of the Pulwama attack, many JeM militants — both local and Pakistani — were killed in different encounters in Kashmir.

“In one case an overground worker was caught by forces when he was preparing to run away,” the police official said.

On 18 February, in an intense 17-hour encounter, security forces killed the “mastermind” of the Pulwama attack. A Pakistani national Kamran was killed along with his two associates in Pinglena village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Following the Pinglena encounter, security forces killed two more Jaish militants in north Kashmir’s Sopore and subsequently killed three more JeM militants in Turigam village of Kulgam district.

These encounters took place in the Valley when tension between India and Pakistan heightened following the Balakot strikes. With around 200 active militants, the Valley is apparently bracing up for more such encounters.

Among the militant outfits active in the valley, Masood Azhar’s JeM has now emerged as the new “go-getting” nemesis for the security grid.

“Since Azhar’s outfit rely on fidayeen attacks and is capable to inflict larger damages, it becomes even more important to go after them,” said a top police officer, whose track record as counter-insurgent officer is well-known. “And to prevent another Pulwama, there’s no other way than to methodically pursue these human bombs and neutralise them.”

Even as security forces killed around 10 JeM militants after the Pulwama attack, the security establishment is reportedly still up against two dozen odd active Jaish militants in the valley.

“Unlike others, JeM recruits are not sitting ducks,” the officer added. “This is where one has to be on extra alert mode.”

In fact, after Pulwama attack, the security forces have suffered some major losses during a gunfight with JeM militants. Among the personnel they lost are an army major and a DSP rank officer.

Notably, in Kashmir’s post-2010 military-militant clashes, JeM’s resurgence was based on its old fidayeen-style attacks. The outfit’s activities had come down after it was banned by Pakistan in the early 2000.

It resurfaced with Pathankot, Uri, Pulwama and Srinagar airport fidayeen attacks. The outfit even attacked the Indian consulate in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharief.

“After the Pulwama attack, now even Hizbul Mujahideen’s operational commander Riyaz Naikoo warned about more suicide attacks in Kashmir if the present impasse over Kashmir issue continues,” said Basharat Amin, a political commentator. “It tells you how the strike at Pulwama has now influenced an otherwise AK-47 warring outfit. This is where it might get uglier.”

Ever since its founder, Masood Azhar was released from Indian jail in the 1999 Kandahar hijacking case, JeM’s ‘suicidal’ method made it a ruthless outfit. During the fidayeen phase of Kashmir insurgency, between 1999 and 2002, it majorly mounted attacks on military installations in and around Kashmir Valley.

“Now when the same outfit is announcing its comeback with the same old methods, it has once again put security establishment on high alert in Kashmir,” said a police officer. “Fearing the same attacks, the security camps have been put on additional cover and vigilance mode across the valley.”

But, in its second coming, Jaish’s sudden and violent strikes on military installations seem following the global suicide bombing method—pre-recording videos.

Aadil Dar, the suicide bomber from Pulwama, was the second fidayeen to shoot a pre-recorded video before ramming his explosives-laden vehicle onto CRPF bus. He had followed the path of Fardeen Khanday of Tral, who earlier attacked a paramilitary training centre in Lethpora on 31 December, 2017, killing five CRPF men.

“By the time you see this, I will be in heavens...” Aadil only repeated the words of Fardeen.

“Such things are new in Kashmir’s 30-year-long militancy,” the police officer said. “I think security establishment has an extra task on their hands now. If it becomes a norm, then we are looking at the grave situation in Kashmir.”

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