SRINAGAR: In what could be termed as a matter of serious concern for security agencies, at least 88 local militants are active in volatile south Kashmir region in Jammu and Kashmir.
The south Kashmir region comprising four districts Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag and Kulgam is turning out to be stronghold of militants. Most of the militant attacks in the Valley have taken place in the region.
Recently five policemen and two bank guards were killed when militants attacked the bank cash van in Pumbai area of Kulgam district.
Two days after the attack, militants looted over Rs 6 lakhs from two banks in Pulwama district.
There were three bank robberies in Kulgam and Pulwama districts on May 2 and 3.
Of the 10 bank robberies in Valley after scrapping of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in November last year, eight have taken place in South Kashmir.
The south Kashmir region is fast emerging as hub of militants. In view of dense forests, the militants room freely and have the connectivity. It was also epicenter of over five months long unrest in Valley last year and most of 92 civilian killings and over 13000 injuries in security forces firing took place in the region.
The militants have been releasing videos about their activities and according to security officials, all these videos have been shot in south Kashmir.
Recently some videos surfaced in which a group of 20 to 30 militants can be seen walking with their weapons. In another video, a militant can be seen training militants in use of handling of weapons while in another Hizb militant gives training about making of petrol bombs and use of weapons.
In the fresh video, Hizb militants can be seen cutting the hair of Special Police Officer (SPO) and beating him. The SPO is seen pleading militants to spare him.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police South Kashmir S P Pani told New Indian Express that congregation and assembly of militants is a matter of concern.
He said the security agencies are following long term strategy and working out the cases.
“We are working in right direction and will have success soon,” DIG said adding, “We only pick up the people involved in the militancy and not the innocent”.
Asked how many militants are active in south Kashmir, DIG said they have got reports that 88 local militants are active in the region.
“Besides, there may be some foreign militants also,” he said.
According to police sources, Lashkar’s Kashmir chief Abu Dujana and Hizb’s commander Zakir Rashid alias Zakir Musa, are operating from south Kashmir.
Zakir, who was named as Hizb’s Kashmir chief after killing of Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8, last year, has released some videos also.
On incidents of bank robberies, DIG said due to bank robberies, it cannot be said that situation has gone out of control.
He said militants are indulging in criminal activities to terrorise the people.
“The bank robbery cases are being worked out and efforts are on to nab the accused,” Pani said.
Another senior police officer of south Kashmir told New Indian Express that militants resort to an incident if they are being pushed out from their comfort zone.
“If you don’t disturb them, they won’t do anything. However, since we are trying to disturb them from their comfort zones, they are resorting to violence including attack on security forces and looting of banks,” he said.
According to him, Thursday’s massive anti-militancy operation in over 20 villages in Shopian district in which over 4000 army, police and paramilitary men participated was aimed to push militants out of their comfort zones.
“We have got reports that most of the recent videos of militants were shot in Shopian. Through this massive search operation, we wanted to send a message to militants that their activities won’t be tolerated and they would be dealt with sternly,” he said adding, “We will be conducting more such operations now”.