SRINAGAR: Militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad have taken the centre stage in Kashmir and are planning fidayeen attacks on security camps and installations, while Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists have gone into hiding after suffering heavy casualties in security force operations, the head of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has said.
“There is a possibility that militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen have gone into hiding after suffering heavy casualties in security operations this year. The Jaish-e-Mohammad militants have taken the centre stage now,” IG CRPF Ravideep Singh Sahi told the New Indian Express. Sahi said pushing Jaish on the centre stage may be a gambit to give a breather to Hizb and LeT militants, who have been on the receiving end of security operations.
There has been a lull in encounters since August 13, when Hizb operational commander Mohammad Yasin Itoo alias Mehmood Gaznavi alongwith two other militants and two soldiers were killed in an encounter in Shopian district.
Over 135 militants, including at least seven top commanders of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen, have been killed in gunfights with security forces so far this year. Most were killed in south Kashmir, though about 120 are still active.
The CRPF IG said two to three groups of Jaish are active in the Valley and security agencies have got inputs that they are planning to launch fidayeen attacks on security camps and installations. “The attack can happen anywhere. It is not specific to south Kashmir,” he said. Sahi said they have asked their men and officers to remain extra vigilant to thwart militant attacks.
Without divulging information on how many militants would be part of the three Jaish groups in the Valley, Sahi said, “At least 20-25 militants of the outfit are active in the Valley and most of them are foreigners.” He said the Jaish militants may use a different modus operandi than the one used in the recent suicide attack on District Police Lines Pulwama in which eight security men and three attackers were killed.
No Cong meet with separatists
A high-powered Congress team led by senior leader and former prime minister Manmohan Singh will visit Jammu and Kashmir in September to review the state’s political situation and hold discussion with party leaders and “like minded” groups. However, the panel is unlikely to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders.
The delegation is not going to visit anybody at their residence. “Anybody interested in meeting the delegation would have to meet them instead of the delegation members travelling to meet them,” said Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief G A Mir.
Asked if they would be sending invitation to traders, Bar Association and others, Mir said, “Senior Congress leaders would be meeting tomorrow to decide how to reach out and whom to invite for talks.” In response to a question on whether the delegation would also be meeting separatist leaders during its stay in Srinagar, he said, “There is no mention of it”.
Another state Congress leader said the delegation has no mandate to meet the separatist leaders. The delegation won’t visit the residences of senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik.