SRINAGAR: TWO militants were killed in a fresh gun battle with security forces in Bandipora district of north Kashmir on Monday, a day after the Centre decided not to extend the unilateral ceasefire it had called to give peace a chance in Kashmir in the month of Ramzan. The Union Home Minister had announced the Ramzan ceasefire on May 16 and directed security forces to end active anti-militancy operations. However, since the terrorist groups did not respond positively to the ceasefire and continued their attacks, the Centre called off the ceasefire on June 17.
The abduction and killing of an Army man and assassination of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari and his two security guards in Lal Chowk on Friday may have also influenced the Centre’s decision to end the unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir. An Army official said that security forces launched an antimilitancy operation in Bandipora district on Monday morning after receiving information about the presence of a group of 15-18 terrorists there. The identity and group affiliation of the slain terrorists was not immediately known.
The Army had been conducting combing and search operation in Panar forest area in Bandipora since June 14 after receiving a tip-off about the terrorists. Meanwhile, a man was killed and another was hurt in firing in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district after a party of the 9 Rashtriya Rifles came under heavy stone pelting. The soldiers opened fire on the stone pelting men, causing injuries to two of them. The injured men were taken to Anantnag hospital, where one of them identified as Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, who had sustained injury in the chest, was declared “brought dead”.
Another man identified as Rayees Ahmad was referred to Srinagar hospital for specialized treatment. The killing of the youth triggered protests in the area with the locals coming out on roads and staging demonstrations. Chanting pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-India and anti-Army slogans, the protestors were demanding punishment to Army men involved in the firing. The authorities rushed strong contingent of police and paramilitary personnel to the area to maintain law and order and foil protests. Meanwhile, the Centre has sanctioned the construction of over 14,000 bunkers at a cost of over `400 crore in the frontier areas of Jammu and Kashmir to safeguard the lives of people living along the LoC and the international border, an official spokesman said.