In Photos: Over 4,000 Troops Comb Shopian To Flush Out Militants
Scores of security forces were deployed in Shopian district of Kashmir for the anti-militancy crackdown.
Helicopters and drones circled the air as over 4,000 troops fanned out across south Kashmir’s Shopian district on 4 May, in a massive operation to flush out militants holed up inside homes.
The operation, targeting militants who have been hiding in the area and striking against security forces, began in the early hours, with security forces, comprising army, police and CRPF, marching into more than a dozen villages in the district, army sources said. According to reports, the operation covered at least 20 villages.
The operation in Shopian, about 55 km from Srinagar, was perhaps the biggest in more than a decade in the troubled Kashmir Valley, an army official said on condition of anonymity.
In Delhi, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, who was in Srinagar on a two-day visit earlier this week, indicated to reporters that security forces had beefed up counter-infiltration postures in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said there had been an increase in militant activities in south Kashmir, with incidents of policemen being killed and banks being looted.
Banks have been looted, policemen have been killed that is why the combing operation is taking place. Terrorists are going to attempt infiltration, snows are melting, summer months have started, so like each year, infiltration will commence. We are taking measures, have beefed up our counter infiltration posture to take care of the situation... It is nothing new. Combing operations have been going in the past as well.Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief
Door-to-Door Searches Reintroduced in Kashmir
Door-to-door searching of houses, a practice that was discarded in the late 1990s, was re-introduced on Thursday. The troops asked all villagers to assemble in a common area so a proper search of their homes could be carried out.
“We do not wish to have any civilian casualty and the measure was therefore required,” said a senior army official engaged in the operation.
The cordon and search operation (CASO) followed intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, including foreign terrorists, in the area, an official said. However, no contact had been established with the militants so far.
Aiding the security forces, which included a team of concealed anti terrorists (CAT), on the ground were drones providing real-time intelligence to the troops.
Barring a minor stone-pelting incident at Turkawangan village, the operation was going on smoothly, an official said.
After carrying out a search operation, security forces carried out a 'reverse sweep' of the entire region once again in order to ensure that none of the militants had slipped in after the earlier cordon ended.
The operation comes four days after militants killed seven people, including five policemen, in adjoining Kulgam.
Recently, videos of large groups of militants, in some cases as many as 30, have surfaced on social media, despite the ban imposed by authorities on 22 such sites and applications. Security agencies believe that these videos were shot in south Kashmir, especially Shopian district.
(With inputs from IANS.)
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