SRI NAGAR: Encounters between militants and security forces in the Kashmir Valley have dropped significantly ever since the Centre abrogated Articles 370 and 35 A that gave special rights to Kashmiris.
Two local Hizbul militants were killed by security forces at Pacchar in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on November 26. Since then, no gunfight has taken place in central, south or north Kashmir, so far.
From August 5 onwards, 10 encounters have taken place in which 20 militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH), an off-shoot of al Qaeda’s Kashmir cell, were killed by security forces.
In comparison, at least 136 militants were killed from January 1 to August 5. It means that on an average 19-20 militants were killed each month in the Kashmir Valley before the Centre scrapped J&K’s special status.
Security experts attributed the drop in encounters to thrust on the maintenance of law and order.
“After scrapping of Article 370, the main focus of security forces was to maintain law and order and maintain peace. In doing so, anti-militancy operations took a backstage, and it gave a much-needed breather to militants,” a security expert said.
At this time of the year, the source said, militants used to come out from hideouts and their chances of detection increased.
“However, we have seen no detection of militants and no encounters in last 23 days. This clearly implies that militants have changed their strategy,” the expert said.
“Militants may now be making less use of mobile phones for avoiding detection by security forces.”
Internet blockade is also hampering anti-militancy operations. A security official admitted that internet suspension has an impact on anti-militancy operations.
However, Deputy Inspector General, South Kashmir, Atul Goel told this newspaper that security forces are continuing their anti-militancy operations.
Encounters are down because fewer militants are now active in the Kashmir Valley, the senior police officer said.