Despite reverses, LeT planning major strikes in Kashmir
Two groups of 10 militants on way to Srinagar, another group surveys Yatra route, South Kashmir alerted against terror strikes on Police
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Jun 24: Even as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti claimed in reply to a question in the state Legislature on Tuesday that insurgency had dipped to its lowest ebb---total of 91 Kashmiri and 54 foreign militants---Kashmir valley in next half of the current year could experience a fresh spell of bloodshed as the formidable jihadist outfit, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, is believed to have tasked around 50 cadres with major strikes in Central and Southern Kashmir, particularly the summer capital of Srinagar.
According to highly placed authoritative sources, Police and security forces have been alerted against major terror strikes in and around Srinagar and the Police in South Kashmir have emerged to be the prime target of possible militant attacks this season.
Police and security agencies have received reports that Hizbul Mujahideen had, of late, mobilised its overground as well as underground cadres for identifying the Policemen of counterinsurgency background visiting their residences frequently in the four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama, including the Police district of Awantipora in south Kashmir. Authorities are expecting attacks on such soft targets besides June 4th-type strike.
On June 3rd, militants left three BSF men dead and five injured in a dare-devil attack on a convoy at Bijbehara, unprecedented on the highway in the last several years. Next day, two Policemen, including an ASI, were gunned down in broad daylight on KP Road, in Anantnag which had not witnessed such an audacious guerrilla strike in the last many years. Previously, two Policemen, including an ASI, were shot dead in broad daylight at Zadibal in Srinagar and another constable at Tengpora, on the highway bypass on May 23rd. Same night, Police claimed to have killed two Pakistani militants of LeT in an encounter in Saraiballa locality in Srinagar.
Subsequently, in Srinagar as well as in entire South Kashmir, Police and security forces have been asked to take no chances.
Simultaneously, authorities have received credible information that a group of three militants, led by Muzaffar Ahmad Naikoo of Hizbul Mujahideen, carried out reconnaissance survey of the Amarnath Yatra route from Shalteng to Wayil, via Sumbal, on June 12th after a meeting in an orchard in Shilvath, near Sumbal. Necessary security bandobust is being put in place to ensure that the pilgrimage beginning around 1st July was safe.
June 4th attack on the Policemen in Anantnag on the Yatra route has exposed the militants’ manoeuvrability in carrying out attacks on the pilgrim convoys even as Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani has claimed that the militants were not planning any attack on the spiritual caravan.
Police and security agencies have learned how LeT top brass assigned some 50 highly trained and indoctrinated Pakistani cadres to conduct some major attacks on the hard targets, particularly J&K Police and security forces, in and around Srinagar in the months June through October. A particular group of 15 LeT militants managed to infiltrate into the Valley through Machhil. However, five militants of the group got killed in different encounters with Army.
Currently, remaining 10 militants of the group have split into two groups of five militants each and they are believed to be camping in Malangpora area of Bandipore. Headed by Abu Gaznavi and Mujahid Bhai, both the split groups are planning their passage to Srinagar. Earlier this month, militants of both Hizbul Mujahideen and LeT have been directed by their handlers to remain stationed in Srinagar.
Even in North Kashmir, at least three groups of LeT militants have infiltrated via Machhil and Nowgam-Uri strip. Even as seven militants of these groups have been killed in three encounters in Kupwara district in the last two days, officials believe double the number have already sneaked into the valley hinterland.
After several years of peace, barring some attacks in 2013, Central and South Kashmir are now in for a shock as the militants seem to be planning a fresh spell of guerrilla attacks. Earlier this year, a major attack on the highway occurred near Pampore at Sempora when LeT militants ambushed a paramilitary convoy and subsequently a bitter gunfight continued for two days at EDI complex.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister informed the Legislature that the militancy had shrunk to a trickle as, according to her, only 91 local militants and 54 foreigners were operating in the Valley. She said that a total of 146 militancy related incidents had happened in Kashmir from 15-01-2015 to 15-01-2016 in which 190 people---including 47 forces personnel and 47 security forces and Police personnel---had got killed. In North Kashmir, 92 people--including 60 militants and 21 security forces and Police personnel---had been killed during the same period while as 54 people---including 34 militants and 12 security forces and Police personnel---had been killed in North Kashmir.
Thirty-seven militants had got killed in Kupwara, 18 in Pulwama, 16 in Baramulla and 9 in Shopian. Besides, 13 Police and security forces men got killed in Kupwara and 6 in Baramulla.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]